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World wide web: Rolls-Royce launched its all-new Dawn drop-top online, but it will not sell cars on the internet.

Rolls-Royce plays catch up by targeting ultra wealthy through online engagement

27 Nov 2015

ROLLS-ROYCE says it is expanding its online presence to better cater to the ever-growing legion of tech-savvy buyers, but it will not follow the trend of some car-makers in selling vehicles online.

The BMW Group-owned brand launched its new Dawn convertible online ahead of its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September, with a globally-streamed digital press conference, signaling its increased online presence.

According to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Asia Pacific regional director Paul Harris, ultra-wealthy consumers are more switched on than ever before, which has meant the car-maker has had to push online engagement to better connect with its buyers.

“We are seeing much, much more throughput of digital engagement particularly amongst ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWI),” he told GoAuto. “I was with marketing teams for the whole region last week and we were showing them some information abut how much more active they (UHNWI) are in that media.

“How much are they on social media? More than you would ever imagine. They are active in carrying out there business digitally, because they have to.” Mr Harris said that while Rolls-Royce is expanding its online presence, it is unlikely that the car-maker will adopt a strategy of selling its vehicles on the internet the way that some brands, including Tesla, have.

“I think the initial experience always starts that way (online) but Rolls-Royce has always prided itself on much more of a personal one-to-one thing and that is a human interface. I believe people still buy from people. This isn't a commodity. This is an experience and that’s the difference.

“I think it is essential, you need to touch, smell, experience. We have an atelier design concept in the factory. People come in and we sit with them, talk through what they want to achieve, talk through what we think might work better. It is not something you can do online very easily.

“We will go to them as well. For me, Rolls-Royce is more than buying a goodie, it is the whole experience of the journey on the way through.” In terms of overall sales, Mr Harris said he was not concerned about the 30 per cent dip it has experienced this year in Australia, and highlighted new dealer activity as evidence of the brand’s growth.

So far this year, 11 Rolls-Royce coupes and convertibles – including the Wraith and Phantom Coupe and Drophead Coupe – have found homes, representing a 52 per cent drop year on year, while 13 Phantom and Ghost sedans have been snapped up.

“We don’t really pay that much attention to sales figures, we pay attention to orders. We know our order bank is very, very positive. We are much more focused on order take than on delivery. We always see an uplift in the back end of the year. I am not concerned at all.

“The Rolls-Royce brand is growing. We have opened up a couple of new dealers in Perth and on the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast is doing exceptionally well. We are interested in Adelaide as well,” he said.

The car-maker officially announced Zagame Automotive as the new Rolls-Royce dealer in Victoria this week, following the group's acquisition of the Trivett Classic outlet from Inchcape.

Mr Harris said there has been a noticeable increase in female buyers in recent times, and predicted that the Dawn would appeal to women.

“This (the Dawn) crosses the boundaries. It has a very broad appeal this product I think,” he said.

“We have seen a lot more lady buyers, lady influencers. In ultra-high net worth, there are a lot more women in there. The beauty of Rolls-Royce is that we can appeal to a multi-environment.

“Some of the technology in the car is to make it easier to drive. They are ostentatious, they are big and some people feel uncomfortable but all of the tech in the car is designed in a way that it is relatively easy to use the tech to enhance that experience.

“What I think ladies really love is they understand couture and individual bespoke more than men. And what we are able to do and how we are able to do it is a real attraction.”

Mr Harris said there was a big take-up of Rolls-Royce’s Bespoke program among Australian buyers.

“This is very strong here, very high. Probably in the top three in Asia in terms of bespoke cars. So that means nearly every car has an element of bespoke on it.”

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