Fleet News

Mercedes proves value of the niche

MERCEDES-Benz has proved the value of focusing on niche markets, both for the company and fleet decision-makers.

The manufacturer's sales have rocketed in the past decade, from 26,000 in 1990 to 77,000 in 2001 and about 80,000 last year.

Dermot Kelly, director of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars and smart, claims a disciplined focus on appealing to niche markets has maintained the brand's core benefits, including market-leading residual values.

He said: 'Our brand strategy is offering models across a lot of niches. There are a lot of different models that retain exclusivity, but together they could allow us to become a mass- market player without harming residual values or brand values.

'For example, we are not selling 80,000 M-class a year, but by offering a wide range of niche models from the same segment, for example, the SL, CL, S-class and long wheelbase S-class, we have exclusivity for each model, yet overall volume sales.

'However, there are some prestige brands that have been aggressive in driving up sales and they have learned the effect that can have. You need to channel demand and we have done that, particularly when it comes to managing the sale of vehicles at the end of their lives.'

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