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New Aussie image for Bentley

British Racing Green light: Bentley plans to resurrect its racing heritage.

Bentley skews younger with sportier variants and racers, but don’t expect discounts

25 Jul 2013

BENTLEY says its return to the European racing circuit, bigger emphasis on sporty offerings and imminent move in the SUV market will revitalise its image in markets such as Australia.

But the British-based, German-owned marque is unlikely to follow the lead of fellow high-end brands Rolls-Royce and Porsche by cutting its local prices.

“There has been a historic perception of being a very English brand and not quite moving ahead,” says Asia Pacific head of marketing and communications Robin Peel.

“But with (Continental) GT V8, the new Flying Spur, the return to racing and a potential SUV we show a brand moving forward, and we have a new younger audience which is very attractive to us.”

Much of this growth into a younger audience can be attributed to Bentley’s boom in China – it sold a record 2253 cars there last year, to a significantly younger average buyer than western markets.

But the company, sales Mr Peel, has the product in its arsenal to skew younger in Australia too, namely the forthcoming Flying Spur limo, the new, unnamed Range Rover rival due around 2016 and the cheaper Continental GT V8 variant launched last year.

Mr Peel gave particular emphasis to the latter, saying: “I think this country is passionate about V8. A V8 with a sports exhaust, as our new car has, is a very attractive proposition to Australian buyers.

“It’s slightly lighter, more sporty, has a slightly different feel and drive to it, and has encouraged people who probably looked at GT before.”

Bentley has sold 61 cars in Australia so far this year, a figure 144 per cent higher than over the same time period in 2012.

Another key to appealing to a younger and more dynamic audience, says Mr Peel, is Bentley’s well-publicised return to the tracks of Europe with a Continental GT-based GT3 category racer.

Bentley may say the decision to race is not a marketing exercise, but its important to consider that its decision to return to Le Mans after a 70-year break in 2001 earned the brand valuable international recognition.

The presence of a Bentley in the 2014 GT3 series is intended to reunite the brand with its racing heritage and may generate similar interest in the brand.

“Racing is in our blood as a brand,” said Mr Peel. “Before we went back to Le Mans in 2001 it was 70 years since we had raced. It’s now 10 years since we raced so we feel we need to do it again.

“A customer said to me ‘The atmosphere, the feeling of utter joy of Bentley being back at Le Mans was fabulous’”.

One area where Bentley will not be engaging in any substantial shake-up will be its pricing. While other luxury brands such as Rolls-Royce and Porsche recently attempted to boost sales by announcing big price cuts, Bentley is standing firm.

“No one needs Bentley - it’s an emotional aspiration and that experience and desire is cheapened if it’s about negotiating a discount,” said Mr Peel.

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