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Overview of the company and a description of the target market they focus

Discuss about the Consumer behavior towards Mercedes-Benz brand.

Research provides many pieces of evidence that connect the consumer to the brand. Many approaches have discussed the consumers' attitudes and emotional relationships with the brands. The consumer brand attitude is considered as a foundation for the brand image. It formulates the consumer related beliefs as it includes the product features, price, usage imagery and packaging. The likeability of the brand, attractiveness and consumer appeal are considered items that describe the consumer attitude towards a brand. This attitude is likely to affect the decision-making process of purchasing and repurchasing a brand (Zarantonello et al., 2016).

The market of the luxury brand has developed progressively during the past two decades. The main reason behind this is due to the relationship between the consumption of luxury products dominated by the brand and consumers’ self-perception. The relationship management of consumer-brand in the luxury products market is dominating the marketing strategies of the organizations involved in luxury products production and sales (Seibold, 2010).

The focus of this report is to investigate Mercedes-Benz luxury brand and its target market. Also, it analyzes the motivation and learning theories related to consumers' decision-making process of purchasing this luxury brand. In addition, it investigates the newly emerging concept of consumer attachment and the company strategies to enhance it. Finally, recommendations are provided to motivate the consumer attachment to the brand.

Daimler is an automotive engineering pioneer that shapes the future of mobility through its innovative technologies. The company invests in the green technology through the creation of the electric vehicles powered by the fuel cell or batteries to fulfill its long-term goal of fuel-free driving. Moreover, it looks for accident-free driving to commit to its environment and the society as well. The major reason of the success of Daimler is Mercedes-Benz brand of cars and vans that considered the most comfortable and efficient cars in the world. Mercedes-Benz was patented in 1886. It was first marketed in 1902. The first brand name of it was produced in 1926 and the first Mercedes-Benz hybrid passenger car was produced in 1982. Today, the company operates all over the globe, its operating facility's production are based in Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia. The company adapts to the customer requirements in different world markets. Also, it conducts research and development to maintain its position as the leading brand in the automotive market. The portfolio of the company products have been developed during decades until the electric drive with fuel cell was produced in 2010, represented in the F 800 Style. It allows a new concept of the driving platform with zero emissions (Mercedes-Benz, 2017).

Detailed analysis of motivation and learning in this type of purchase decision-making process

The company depends on a big range of product variety to fulfill its strategy of going global. It concentrates on vans with a complete range to be used privately and commercially, including the mid-size pickups, the full-size MPVs and the commercial vehicles. The product portfolio ranges from the X-Class to the large Sprinter van. Also, the company is the world's first auto manufacturers of the X-Class mid-size pickup that is considered the most promising market segment. The standards of comfort of the design and safety make the brand a new combination between the private and commercial use and the urban and rural vehicle. Also, the V-Class full-size MPV is the best choice for families and recreational activities that fulfill the going global strategy of the company. The Chinese and Western European markets are the largest markets for Mercedes-Benz sales of vehicles. Also, the Japanese market sales volume of the light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles is increasing. It is also considered the number one brand in the United States, Canada and South Korea (Daimlar, 2016; Daimler, 2017).

Loyalty refers to the deeply held commitment to repurchase a certain product or service that is preferred by the consumer in the future as it represents the consumer primary choice. The customer satisfaction and value of money are key determinants of the brand loyalty. In order to take a purchasing decision, the brand awareness is very important that is also related to brand loyalty. The self-concept theory assumes that consumer behaves in a way that enhances his self-sense. Using brands is a way of doing this through the utilization of their symbolic meanings (Anisimova, 2016). The Signaling theory proposes a framework that relates the innovativeness to the consumer perceptions loyalty relationship. The theory assumes a complex chain of variables including, cognitive satisfaction, innovativeness, loyalty and functional competencies. Also, it provides a solid foundation of the nature of the data required to be used in empirical testing (Pappu and Quester 2016; Elsaber and Wirtz, 2017). Moreover, the attitudinal loyalty model reposed by Oliver (1999) as cited in Torres?Moraga et al. (2008), explains the customers' cognitive and learning ability to continue to be related to the brand or the producing company.

The brand power of Mercedes-Benz is a significant entry barrier to other brands in its market segments. In order to enhance the brand power, Mercedes-Benz has created stretching strategies downwards into new segments. The mid-size and luxury salon vehicles are the main brands that have the power that represent the focus of the company expansion. The consumers of luxury cars in most cases have purchased a car previously that shaped his attitude towards it. This attitude could be positive or negative that became an evaluation tool based on the actual experience he had. There are some factors that control the consumer decision towards a luxury car represented in his past experience, socioeconomic status, the prior information he had about the brand and the brand image. Also, the customer might have a positive attitude towards a luxury brand as Mercedes-Benz. Its vehicles enjoy high quality, they are produced according to the highest safety standards, considered as reliable product and have a good after sales services that could handle any problems, also, it is developed to be environmentally and social friendly with zero emissions and zero accidents, prestigious, comfortable, style and durable (Al Amgir et al., 2010).

Assessment of brand current success in achieving an emotional attachment with its target audience

Mercedes-Benz could understand the consumer needs and quickly responds to them. Although the consumer needs in the different world countries that represent the target market of the company are very diverse, the company could fulfill these needs and maintain its high ranked position in the luxury car market. By doing this, the company could establish and control a relationship based on trust and guarantee consumer loyalty (Seibold, 2010).

The role of emotions in building brand loyalty was deeply investigated in research.  As a result of these studies, a new concept of emotional brand attachment was developed. It investigates the origin of the consumer brand loyalty.  Emotional brand attachment involves passion, affection and self-brand connection. The conceptual components represent the basis for building the brand loyalty (Hemsley-Brown and Alnawas, 2016). The concept of brand love has emerged in the literature. It adapts the theories from the interpersonal theory of love to the branding context and assumes that brand love involves the dimensions of intimacy, passion and commitment. Yet, the concept of brand attachment was developed (Iyer et al., 2016; Andrine and Solem, 2016).

The luxury brand symbolic function could act as a socially shared symbol of identity. The consumers share in giving social meaning to an object through transmission, reproduction and transformation process. As the consumers act as receivers of information, they by the way retransmit it to others who create and transform a social meanings. This explains the fact that Mercedes-Benz is the prestigious choice of luxury cars consumers (Al Amgir et al., 2010). Mercedes enhances these values through its advertisements that promote for the brand as the most luxurious, expensive, reputed and prestigious car. This strategy enables it to prove its brand in the world market with the luxurious E, F and S car segments and encourages it to expand into new segments (Maria et al., 2016).

When a customer feels a deep connection to the brand, the brand attachment could take place. It occurs as a result of the strong emotions to a brand that leads him to feel that the brand is the reflection of his identity. It is considered as a predictor of the consumer behavior toward a particular brand by car manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz. Accordingly, Mercedes ranked 79 in the brand dependence index developed to help the companies to measure the power of their brand attachment. The scale of the index ranges between (0-100) (UTA Brand Studio, 2014).

As Mercedes-Benz provides a connected vehicle that uses the communication technologies to communicate with the car driver, it has the opportunity to be an integral part of the consumer digital identity. It could develop a consumer belonging to the brand through the communication technology that influences the consumer loyalty (Informatica Corporation, 2013). Depending on its high reputation as an iconic global luxurious car market leader, Mercedes-Benz do not put too much efforts in advertisements. The marketers at the company only advertise the new models. They are recommended to follow the strategy of the brand as a company by carefully watching the consumer behavior and their public value in order not to be negatively affected.  Moreover, Mercedes has to assure the highest level of services associated with physical products represented in the service management by car dealers around the world through the creation and maintenance of high customer value. Focusing on the customer value and consumer attachment is likely to provide the company with a competitive advantage through building an emotional bond. This policy is likely to increase the customers' loyalty to the brand and encourages them to recommend the brand to their social networks including family and friends.


In addition, marketers at Mercedes have to realize the high competition in the luxury car market. As the competition increases, customer switch represents a potential risk to the brand. For example, BMW might outperform Mercedes with new features that suit the customer of Mercedes. Customer satisfaction is very important to influence and revise the customer attitudes that could be energized through conducting effective marketing strategies (Al Amgir et al., 2010).

It is also recommended that Mercedes accelerates the fulfillment of its 'Mercedes-Benz 2020 – Best Customer Experience' that aims at broadening the sales of its brand. The idea depends on managing meetings between individuals and customers from the first stage of a test drive to purchase and after-sales services to be able to meet the changing preferences of customers. The acceleration of this strategy will guarantee the existing customers' loyalty and attract new customers through the service marketing activities (Mercedes-Benz, 2017).

It is also recommended that the company expands its car2go mobility strategy in more countries as a market leader of flexible car sharing. It is now operating in 26 locations in eight countries in Europe, Asia and North America. More than 1400 customers can find and book Mercedes-Benz vehicles by using an application on their smartphones (Daimlar, 2017).

Conclusion

Daimler is an automotive engineering pioneer that shapes the future of mobility through its innovative technologies. The company invests in the green technology through the creation of the electric vehicles powered by the fuel cell or batteries to fulfill its long-term goal of fuel-free driving. The major reason of the success of Daimler is Mercedes-Benz brand of cars and vans that considered the most comfortable and efficient cars in the world. The company depends on a big range of product variety to fulfill its strategy of going global.

In order to take a purchasing decision, the brand awareness is very important that is also related to brand loyalty. There are some factors that control the consumer decision towards a luxury car represented in his past experience, socioeconomic status, the prior information he had about the brand and the brand image.

When a customer feels a deep connection to the brand, the brand attachment could take place. It occurs as a result of the strong emotions to a brand that leads him to feel that the brand is the reflection of his identity.

References

Al Amgir, M., Nasir, T., Shamsuddoha, M. and Nedelea, A. (2010) Influence of brand name on consumer decision making process - An empirical study on car buyers. Va Trimitem Atasat. 10(2), pp. 12-36.

Andrine, B. and Solem, A. (2016) Influences of customer participation and customer brand engagement on brand loyalty. Journal of Consumer Marketing. 33(5), pp. 332-342.

Anisimova, T. (2016) The effects of corporate brand symbolism on consumer satisfaction and loyalty: Evidence from Australia. Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics. 28(3), pp. 481-498.

Daimlar (2017) Annual Report.Germany: Daimlar.

Daimler (2016) Annual Report. Germany: Daimlar.

Elsaber, M. and Wirtz, B. (2017) Rational and emotional factors of customer satisfaction and brand loyalty in a business-to-business setting. Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing. 32(1), pp. 138-152.

Hemsley-Brown, J. and Alnawas, I. (2016) Service quality and brand loyalty: The mediation effect of brand passion, brand affection and self-brand connection. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management. 28(12), pp. 2771-2794.

Informatica Corporation (2013) Improving automotive brand loyalty. [Online]
Available from: https://www.informatica.com/content/dam/informatica-com/global/amer/us/collateral/data-sheet/automotive-brand-loyalty_data-sheet_2631.pdf
[Accessed 06 April 2018].

Iyer, P., Paswan, A. and Davari, A. (2016) Brands, love and family. Journal of Product and Brand Management. 25(1), pp. 69-83.

Maria, S., Loureiro, C. and Kaufmann, H. (2016) Luxury values as drivers for affective commitment: The case of luxury car tribes. Loureiro and Kaufmann, Cogent Business and Management. Volume 3, pp. 1-13.

Mercedes-Benz (2017) Mercedes-Benz Thailand: Company Profile. Thailand: Mercedes-Benz.

Pappu, R. and Quester, P. (2016) How does brand innovativeness affect brand loyalty?. European Journal of Marketing. 50(1/2), pp. 2-28.

Seibold, S. (2010) Understanding Consumer Behaviour in the Prestige Car Market. Australia: RMIT University.

Torres?Moraga, E., Vásquez?Parraga, A. and Zamora?González, J. (2008) Customer satisfaction and loyalty: start with the product, culminate with the brand. Journal of Consumer Marketing. 25(5), pp. 302-313.

UTA Brand Studio (2014) Automotive Brand Dpendence Index. Canada: UTA Brand Studio.

Zarantonello, L., Formisano, M. and Grappi, S. (2016) The relationship between brand love and actual brand performance: Evidence from an international study. International Marketing Review. 33(6), pp. 806-82

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