Our marketing strategy lies in the Japanese art of Omotenashi- Akitoshi Takemura, Lexus India
A new entrant in the Indian market Lexus faces some heavy weights in the luxury automobile category but is confident that its personalized customer experiences will be a key factor in gaining market share. Akitoshi Takemura, senior vice president, Lexus India reveals how the brand’s official global tagline ‘Experience Amazing’ translates in its marketing strategy.
Lexus entered the Indian market in March this year. What is your strategy to own market share in the luxury automobile category?
We are an automotive company that takes inspired design, relentless innovation and uninhibited performance and turns them into passionate, moving experiences. We recognize the opportunity to serve the market with quality vehicles, which meet the needs of the discerning Indian luxury consumer. In a market that is new for Lexus, the bolder, more imaginative and evolved Lexus brand makes the first impression. We feel that the execution of the vehicles and the capabilities of the hybrid powertrains will help Lexus find favor within India. Luxury buyers looking for a progressive luxury alternative that makes a strong statement about its buyer will find the brand appealing. Our unique omotenashi experience, the superior quality of our vehicles, and our unmatched and personalized ownership experience differentiates us, and the Lexus consumer recognizes and appreciates this. We are also certain that once our guests experience the Lexus lifestyle, it’ll be something they will share with others, and this will help us grow in India.
What are your immediate objectives in India and how far have you achieved them?
India’s experience of luxury is evolving with its affluence. Lexus will provide the Indian customer with our signature amazing experience through our vehicles, service and any interaction with our brand. Lexus’ passion for brave design, superior quality and exhilarating performance enables the luxury lifestyle brand to create amazing experience for our guests. Since entering the market, Lexus has introduced four ‘Guest Experience Centers’ in Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai and Bangalore that deliver unparalleled experiences to our customers. Every center is unique and the elements used are industry first and an absolute sensual delight for our guests. These extend from warm, welcoming environments at each of our GECs, to the hospitality experienced by our guests and the attention delivered by an exclusive Lexus Relationship Manager. Each GEC also extends this concept of hospitality to the ownership experience through personalized engagements.
What is the marketing budget you have set aside for this year?
As a policy, we don’t disclose our marketing budgets. However, we can say that we have prioritized applying that budget towards building awareness of what sets us apart as a luxury lifestyle brand – the guest experience Lexus delivers.
How important a role will experiential marketing play for creating inroads for the brand?
For a start we don’t refer to customers as customers; we think of them as guests – and the approach of how they experience Lexus follows from that. Our aim is to deliver unparalleled experiences, and every single touchpoint has been designed to deliver this to our guests. At Lexus, we firmly believe that the sale of the vehicle is not the aim of our activities, but in fact, just the beginning of a long-term association with the guest. Right from our Guest Experience Centers that allow our guests to experience Lexus vehicles as well as the Lexus lifestyle, to our customer care helpline, our guests will experience superior quality of services.
The Lexus experience is strongly rooted in the Japanese philosophy of omotenashi - the spirit that lives in our ability to be so in tune with the needs and desires of our guests as to be able to predict and deliver their needs before they may even realize them.
Lexus focuses on creating touchpoints for audiences to experience the brand through numerous lenses like films and filmmaking. For the first time in India, we have introduced Lexus Short Films Festival to engage with our audiences and provide the future filmmakers an international platform to showcase their talent. By way of Lexus Short Films Festival, we are encouraging young and budding filmmakers to participate in this excellent opportunity, to showcase their films. We hope the future generation stars are from the Lexus stable. We are also inviting entries from India for the first time for Lexus Design Award 2018. A unique platform, Lexus Design Award provides young designers with a mentorship opportunity and global exposure, and encourages them to think and redesign products for a better tomorrow - a philosophy that is deeply rooted in the way we approach our aim to create unparalleled experiences.
Globally music has been an influencer for Lexus where partnerships have included Will.i.am and Pop up concert series with Pandora. What are your plans in India?
We are always open to collaborations, which will highlight our brand and the innovation we bring to the table. Our partnership with Will.i.am demonstrated just that. Lexus has always been closely associated with the disciplines of art and culture, and we plan to bring the same here. This year, we have introduced our global annual property in India – The Lexus Short Films Festival. Not only will the works of the winners of film festival be showcased at international film festivals, but also present them a unique opportunity to explore the art of filmmaking using all the latest technology, while being guided by renowned industry experts.
Our guests get a chance to live tomorrow, today – we have collaborated with upcoming sci-fi flick Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, to design and imagine a car 700 years in the future. The Skyjet is driven by the film’s main character Valerian, played by Dane DeHaan.
How has digital integration with experiential complemented Lexus' brand campaigns?
It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and digital platforms today provide an excellent opportunity to exemplify this. In India, we are currently active on Facebook and Instagram, and we use Instagram to convey various aspects of the Lexus experience. By using strong images that express how Lexus is different and superior, we are able to connect with our audiences on an intimate level, who then associate strongly with the brand. Instagram and Facebook are brilliant platforms for storytelling and it allows us to do so over an extended period. The Lexus story is fascinating and we aim to tell the same through confluence of our experiential touchpoints and digital storytelling.
Do you foresee any challenges during the initial stages of expansion in the country?
Thanks to Indian HNI customer connects with Middle East and US, we are happy to see very high brand awareness of Lexus in India. Of course, Lexus being one of the recent entrants in India, we need to establish ourselves. We are confident that with our personalized customer experiences, reasonable cost of ownership, advanced technologies and superior quality products, Lexus will establish itself as a preferred brand among Indian luxury car buyers.
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