40% Of Our Budgets Stay Allocated To Experiential Marketing: Naveen Soni

Naveen Soni, President of Lexus India, reveals the brand's strategic focus on experiential marketing, sustainability and a multifaceted luxury lifestyle partnership, as it celebrates its 7th year of Lexus Design Awards India


The luxury car market in India has undergone significant changes, aligning with evolving consumer preferences. Lexus India, a prominent luxury car brand established in 2017, has employed diverse strategies to connect and retain its consumers.

As the brand marks its 7th year and celebrates its flagship event, Lexus Design Awards India (LDAI), Everything Experiential engaged in an exclusive conversation with Naveen Soni, President of Lexus India

LDAI, now in its 7th year revolves around the theme on promoting design and recognising emerging talents. Soni highlighted the brand's conscious decision on design and sustainability. “99 per cent of our product range is a self-charging hybrid electric vehicle which what we feel is the current business environment or the current infrastructure environment in the business scenario for the technologies that should be used in mobility but for the other cornerstone, we do get recognised for the intricacies and the detailing and the craftsmanship that we use to build our vehicles”, stated Soni. He further emphasised that the awards, however, go beyond product promotion, aiming to celebrate and support designers in solving real-world problems through innovative design solutions, underlining Lexus's commitment to fostering design excellence irrespective of direct business implications.

Luxury Lifestyle Partnership 

Soni delved into Lexus's multifaceted engagement strategy, positioning the brand as more than a luxury mobility provider. He detailed the introduction of the ‘Lexus Life’ program, allocating 40 per cent of marketing spends, offering guests exclusive privileges and experiences. Explaining the program, he stressed, “Under Lexus Life, what we do is we ask our consumers to either have privileges or have experiences. Experiences is something that money can't buy but at the same time privileges is something that by virtue of being a Lexus consumer, they can participate.”

In a concerted effort to foster deeper connections with its consumers, Lexus India actively promotes and welcomes consumer participation in various programs. Soni stated, “The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with guests wholeheartedly engaging in these initiatives”. The brand's strategic approach involves organising activities that not only encourage participation but also aim to bring individuals closer to the Lexus brand. This intentional effort is part of Lexus India's broader strategy to fortify the bond with its value.

By understanding and catering to various lifestyle interests, such as sports, films, music, and health, Lexus India seeks to enhance its luxury lifestyle partnership with consumers.

Expanded Experiential Events

Emphasising the role of experiential marketing, Soni revealed that while the goal might be increased sales, the primary focus is on building robust relationships with consumers. Through tailored and exclusive experiences, Lexus aims to transform guests into quasi brand ambassadors, fostering a sustainable and cost-effective approach to growth.

"We started with a referral percentage of nine per cent as a total sale. Today it's hovering around 18 to 19 per cent and we hope that with this strength of the Lexus Life program, it will be even going up to, I would believe, up to 30 per cent," Soni remarked, highlighting the effectiveness of experiential strategies in strengthening brand-consumer relationships. 

Looking ahead to 2024, Soni acknowledged the role of digital platforms in marketing. While digital will occupy a central stage, Lexus remains committed to experiential marketing, particularly for existing consumers. The brand plans to expand experiential events not only for potential vehicle buyers but also for those who visit showrooms without making a purchase, ensuring a continuous connection. He affirms by stating, “We have expanded experiential events not only for guests who have purchased a vehicle or are showing intentions to buy a vehicle but also the guests who choose not to purchase a Lexus vehicle after coming to our showrooms so that the business continuity remains.”

Soni envisions a future where technology, specifically Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), playing a vital role in marketing strategies. He emphasised the importance of reaching out to guests at the right time with the right offerings, using AI and ML tools to deepen bonds and relationships.

Circling back to the 7th edition of Lexus Design Awards India, Soni shared insights, highlighting the positive impact of an expanded and enriched jury panel this year. “The enhanced expertise of the jury members has not only elevated the quality of entries but also inspired innovative perspectives and use cases beyond the expectations of the participating designers”, remarked Soni. This trend is expected to amplify the award's desirability, positioning it as a prestigious recognition within the design fraternity. He expressed optimism, anticipating that the continuous dedication to fostering design excellence will make the next edition even more remarkable than the current one.

The Road Ahead 

As Lexus navigates the challenges of semiconductor issues, Soni accentuates, “There will be a lot more experiential strategies that will be definitely upon in 2024. We would like to deepen our bonds and relationship with our guests, whether through experiential marketing activities, immersive marketing activities, or reaching out to them at the right time for the right things.”

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