A McLaren and Bentley for the masses in the UAE? Should luxury go mainstream?

The beauty about luxury is that it isn’t for everyone. Luxury is exclusive, it’s a statement of position. Luxury isn’t about function but form and beauty. Luxury automotives can cost more than a decent-sized house, and when you consider that the likes of Rolls-Royce only sold 3,630 cars in 2013 (which was a record year for them fyi), then one gets to truly understand how exclusive luxury is.

So imagine my surprise when I saw a couple of weeks ago adverts for Bentley with copy that read a Flying Spur could be mine for only AED11,514.00 per month – that’s about US$3,000). Few people would be able to afford a car worth about US$200,000 when new. While the payment option, spread over several years, makes sense financially, what harm does it do to the brand for those wealthy enough not to need financing? Would they want to see the car driven by the masses?

What does this sort of offer do to a brand such as Bentley? Does it help or harm the brand in the eyes of Bentley's original target audience?

What does this sort of offer do to a brand such as Bentley? Does it help or harm the brand in the eyes of Bentley’s original target audience?

It gets better. The same dealer in the UAE who sells Bentley also has the rights to McLaren. And what do you do with a supercar which costs over US$220,000? You offer it on installment at AED9,300 a month.

Do you have a spare 10,000 Dirhams to spare a month? Why not buy a McLaren supercar?

Do you have a spare 10,000 Dirhams to spare a month? Why not buy a McLaren supercar?

While brands nee to make money to survive and grow, what is the reputational cost and the impact on brand equity of such offers which change both a product’s positioning as well as its target audience? What are your thoughts? Is this a creative, original idea to build a brand? Or does it do more harm than good?

2 thoughts on “A McLaren and Bentley for the masses in the UAE? Should luxury go mainstream?

  1. Alex, I agree when a luxury brand starts to promote value it looses its luxury perception. Luxury = premium = only for those who can afford it. Everyone knows you can easily get a car loan so why do they need to advertise it. You start to talk about installement then the core customer would run away because the message they are getting is “watch out your beloved brand is no more special many can buy it”

    Thanks Alex for the great article

  2. I had an opposing view (with respect). I do like these ads which entice affordability. Exclusivity has it’s own audience & they will always have something. Let me put it this way, 80 years ago, in my city only 10 people have cars (including the royals), now almost every middle class owns one. Personally, these brands needs to move to the masses – BMW/Audi success in India is a good example.

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