Interbrand Thinking

A new frontier for automotive beckons – how will Porsche face the challenges and opportunities of the future?

Porsche

Five Questions with Robert Ader, Chief Marketing Officer, Porsche AG

We believe there is a shift from organization-led brands to brand-led organizations (e.g. Disney, Amazon, Apple) where the business is the commercial manifestation of a powerful brand. Do you recognize this shift? What are the challenges and opportunities in it?

In my point of view, the role of the brand has always been at the very heart of our management decisions. We know how vital the brand is for the purchase decision of our customers, but also how important the brand values are to attract the next generation of customers. A lot of our marketing initiatives is focused on confirming and building up this long-term brand affinity rather than achieving short-term goals. In this context, I am happy that we live this “shift” quite naturally at Porsche.

Our Best Global Brands data suggests that brands who not only provide superb experiences but also take a leading stance on social issues are more relevant to consumers. How are you approaching this in your organization?

I can only confirm that we very much feel these growing expectations, be it through our online feedback or through the conversations with our customers. For me, two elements are crucial: first of all, we have established clear cross-organizational teams and working practices, especially between marketing and PR. The key is to be able to react quickly. As early indicator, we are monitoring very closely conversation in our channels on social media. Secondly, people expect more than statements, they want tangible action. We take a holistic view of sustainability: ecological, economic, and social. Our response to the crisis in the Ukraine is a good example in my point of view: we were very clear in our stance on social media, but we were also very consequential in stopping our business activities in Russia and donating a substantial amount for refugees.

Why, in a recession, should a business continue to invest in their brand? How do you think the investment in brand and marketing, will evolve or change over the next 12 – 18 months?

For our customers, the decision to invest in our brand is always two-fold: there is a very convincing product, but also a strong emotional connection to the values of the Porsche brand. We feel that for the next generation of customers the alignment with values will be even more important. They don’t just buy a brand, the buy into a brand. In this regard, the next 18 months will see a continuous invest in brand communication and we have a couple of interesting projects in the pipeline that will connect us especially to Gen Z.

We feel that for the next generation of customers the alignment with values will be even more important. They don’t just buy a brand, the buy into a brand.

How has your competition evolved over the past 24 months? Where are you seeing or experiencing the greatest threats? What are the biggest opportunities? Are you seeing new or surprising competitors entering the space?

The automotive industry is going through the biggest disruption since its inception. Of course, we respect automotive brands who have used the move to electric mobility to come into the market and create interesting products – Tesla or Rivian, to name just two. We also see a whole new wave of new brands emerging in our largest single market China – they are also targeting our very attractive market segment. And of course, the new digital ecosystems create competition along the whole a value chain. Our ecosystem needs to be competitive with the market standards like Apple or Amazon, and at the same time needs to capitalize on the direct connection to the car and all its data. The big opportunity for me remains to tell a typical Porsche story of heritage and innovation in all these spaces. When we manage to offer state-of-the-art technology but also manage to add the typical feeling of our brand to this, I am very optimistic that we can remain successful.

We have come to recognize brands as being powerful acts of leadership. In what ways do your brand’s moves reflect you/your organization’s belief system? 

Three things come to my mind: Even after nearly 75 years, Porsche remains open for change. Only because Porsche always changed, Porsche remains Porsche. Secondly, we are a truly global brand. We believe in the power of local markets and dealers and act as one team almost like one global family. And last but certainly not least, we tackle new challenges and opportunities with a sporty mindset.