Mercedes-Benz brand is amongst the most valuable and well-known brands on a global scale. They have been present since the beginning of the crazy automotive industry. Their brand went through several rough patches but somehow always ended up as the brand everyone knew or even loved. Even Janis Joplin. This is in deep look at their brand which includes netnographic research and in-depth interviews. You are also welcome to check our other Mercedes related content.
2020 Automotive industry brief analysis
Today, the economy is changing rapidly with the development of new markets, technologies, sustainable policies and changing consumer preferences. Digitization, increasing automation and new business models have also revolutionized the automotive industry. These forces have given rise to new technological trends that automakers must follow to stay competitive.
Global car production declined at an average annual rate of -0.3% between 2014 and 2018, reaching EUR 1,256.5 billion in 2018. Over the same period, global car production grew at an average annual rate of 1.3%, reaching 68.5 million units in 2018. In 2019, global car sales are expected to gain momentum. Analysts are uneven about these forecasts. Some predict that global car production will grow at an average annual rate of 2.7% by 2023 and reach EUR 1,367.6 billion in 2023, with output expected to increase at an average annual rate of 2.6% over the same period, and reached 77.9 million units in 2023 (Export Window, 2019). Still, others believe that the decline in sales in the automotive industry is the first indicator of a new financial crisis or a general slowdown in the global economy. Trade is declining around the world, investment is declining. One of the reasons is the many conflicts between the countries: the trade war between the US and China, Brexit, the economic dispute between Japan and South Korea.
The improvement in macroeconomic conditions to date, lower unemployment rates, and higher household incomes have increased the financial capacity of end-customers to buy new cars in many major global markets.
In recent years, there have been major lifestyle changes affecting the automotive industry. With the development of communication technology, commuters can now work from home or from other places, such as co-working spaces, which have become quite popular lately. Consumers, especially younger generations, are slowly moving away from the concept of car ownership. They have more choices than ever about mobility, how to get from point A to B. Platforms like Uber and Lift and other car-sharing companies are taking control of the automotive industry and are changing it to a great extent.
Car manufacturers are also being pressured by increasingly stringent government regulations. The European Union has set 2030 as the year when all means of transport must adopt alternative fuels as a primary source of energy. After this year, the first registration of petrol or diesel internal combustion vehicles will no longer be allowed.
Stricter emissions regulations, lower battery costs, increasingly accessible infrastructure, and increased consumer acceptance will create new momentum for electric, hybrid and other alternative fuel vehicles in the coming years. Many major global car manufacturers, as well as Mercedes-Benz, have already announced the transition to electric or hybrid car production in the next decade. For new competitors looking to enter this industry, the electric car segment will be particularly interesting.
One of the major trends in the automotive sector is automated driving. In the future, the interoperability of intelligent technologies will ensure that most of the driving tasks are taken over by vehicle electronics. The current major challenges hindering faster market penetration are in addition to technology readiness, consumer acceptance of technology and, above all, safety. Once these issues are resolved, the car will be more than just a vehicle. Connectivity and digitization will allow consumers to have in their car all the elements of entertainment they have at home or at work.
Increased demand for large and medium-sized off-road vehicles (SUVs) can be observed in the global car market. Oil prices are unlikely to rise, which means that demand for these vehicles will remain strong and these vehicles will replace passenger cars. Consumer demands are changing, and with the digitalization of technology, they are changing the whole industry. The automotive industry offers solutions for greener cars, public transportation, driving assistance and autonomous driving, smart infrastructure and many innovative ways to meet customer needs.
Mercedes-Benz buyers analysis
The Mercedes-Benz brand is aimed at men and women, middle to high-income earners, who are in the midst of their careers and are in favor of luxury brands and social status. Regarded as successful, confident, stable, goal-oriented. They choose a car based on prestige, status symbol, and quality.
With its wide range of vehicles, Mercedes-Benz captures multiple age group buyers. The typical customer is between 25 and 50 years old. In the past, he was a typical mid-range Mercedes customer. A drastic shift in the profile of the Mercedes customer came from the introduction of sports versions of models, especially AMG models. This has attracted a younger profile of buyers who appreciate performance and “sporty” design.
In addition to social status, performance and design, potential buyers expect high-quality, high-quality cars manufactured to the highest safety standards. After-sales services are also very important to them.
While some purchases require a little effort, buying a new car is a big decision for most people and it takes a lot of effort. The intensity of the whole process varies between consumers, lasting more than a month. When deciding to buy a new vehicle, there are many factors that influence the decision; past experience with the brand, socio-economic status, prior information about the brand and its image, .. 10 years ago, the buyer visited a few showrooms and talked with the sellers in person before deciding to buy. Today, buyers first turn to the Internet to gather information, explore different possible alternatives and expert opinions. Most often they turn to video content, motoring websites, forums to help them make their decisions and then go to the official website of the desired car manufacturer. The Mercedes-Benz website offers a wealth of information to potential buyers about their models, the entire purchasing process, and a configurator to help them build a new car to their liking. Only then do they head to the official dealer.
Nowadays, customers no longer accept standardized products but want products that meet their individual requirements – be it which car is the safest, which one will fit the family of five, what will be the lowest monthly payment or which vehicle offers Bluetooth connectivity for instance. Buyers are more and more inclined to buy more practical cars than to stand out ones. Different funding packages are also on the rise. These vary from vendor to vendor. The demand for electric, hybrid and other alternative fuel vehicles has also been increasing in recent years.
Potential buyers can detect the added value of Mercedes-Benz every time they come into contact with them. From consistency and professionalism in communicating their message, all the way to design (logo, websites, social media, showrooms, ..). This consistency and consistency ensure that potential customers know what to expect. The brand itself is well known for its quality products and rich history. This helps in signaling added value, as many people who do not use this brand often give a good voice. The Mercedes-Benz website contains all the detailed information. Even with personal contact in showrooms, every interaction is carefully designed. Sellers are professional and knowledgeable. The car prices themselves and Made in Germany are a signal of quality. After-sales activities are also very important – warranties, repairs, roadside assistance. If Mercedes-Benz did not believe in the quality of their vehicles, they would not be offered to such an extent.
They engage their customers to co-create a Mercedes-Benz membership club. The purpose of the clubs is to connect fans of their vehicles, to provide them with quality advice, to offer maintenance-related benefits, to organize club trips and events, and to promote the technical culture of three-pointed vehicle enthusiasts by promoting the Mercedes-Benz brand (Mercedes-Benz club Slovenia, 2019). Online, they engage customers to co-create the brand through social networks. They share their posts on a daily basis with their cars.
Mercedes-Benz competitors analysis
Mercedes-Benz is part of the “German Triple”, the world’s best-selling carmaker, along with Audi and BMW. They are also one of their biggest competitors.
Audi is a German international company that produces luxury cars. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious automobile manufacturers. He has been a part of the Volkswagen Group for over 40 years. Audi is known for its high technical level, high-quality standards, and high power. Constantly guided by its enterprising, honorable and dynamic core values, it has grown into a symbol of luxury cars. It produces these in seven factories around the world, some of which are shared with other Volkswagen brands. They make many different models of cars, ranging from premium to super-premium to ultra-premium.
The Audi brand, ranked 42nd on Interbrand’s Most Valuable Brands list this year, valued at $ 12.8 million. In the eyes of customers, it is often associated with the image of “cool, cute and elegant”. Each of the rings of their logo represents one of four car companies that came together and created Audi’s previous company, Auto Union. Audi’s slogan is “Vorsprung Durch Technik”, which means “Advantage through Technology”. Audi colors are white, black, aluminum silver, red and warm silver. The order is irrelevant, they are used depending on the message they want to convey.
Due to its different models and designs, Audi is considered one of Mercedes’ closest competitors.
Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) is an international company based in Munich that produces motorcycles and cars. It has 30 manufacturing and assembly plants in 14 countries worldwide. They employ approximately 129,932 people. It manufactures different models of vehicles, of different price ranges – from small, compact, Series 1 cars to prestigious Series 7 and all-terrain vehicles. Under the BMW M brand, they sell the most powerful models and under the BMW I brand electric cars.
The BMW brand ranked 11th on the Interbrand scale this year, with a brand value of $ 41.4 million. In the eyes of customers, it is often associated with the image: “beautiful, cool and fast.” The circular blue and white logo was developed from the Rapp Motorenwerke logo from which BMW grew. Blue and white represent the colors of the Bavarian flag. Their slogan reads: ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’.
The BMW brand focuses on the continuous improvement of processes and technological advancement of its products. Worldwide, it is known for its reliability, quality, design, and excellent customer service. As one of the leading car manufacturers worldwide, BMW is considered one of Mercedes’ closest competitors, just like Audi.
In the electric vehicle segment, Mercedes-Benz is Tesla’s closest competitor. Tesla is a US multinational automotive and energy company, founded in 2003 and headquartered in the United States. They deserve to make the first all-electric car, called the Model S, which is still considered the best car in the electric vehicle category today.
They make their cars at a factory in California. In addition to cars, they also produce a range of energy solutions such as Powerwall, Solar Roof and Powerpack. In doing so, they aim to enable the production, consumption, and storage of renewable energy sources to be managed.
The Tesla brand is known for its high level of innovation, especially in the production of the world’s first fully electric sports car. This factor is an advantage that enables a company to develop competitive and profitable products. It is also a symbol of renewable energy solutions. Because Tesla is a strong brand and enhances its customer acquisition and retention capabilities, it is a really strong competitor to Mercedes-Benz.
Mercedes-Benz SWOT analysis
Strong brand value
A strong brand history
A leader in the luxury car category
A leader in innovation
High R&D budget
Strong motorsports presence
More than 25 production facilities worldwide
Patents on security systems
Good resale value
High service costs
Expensive spare parts
High production costs
Less popular with young people (changing and improving)
Government regulations on CO2 emissions
Growing competition from Japanese luxury car manufacturers:
Toyota – Lexus
Nissan – Infinity
Improved public transport
Rising fuel prices
Competitors introduce new models (mostly electric)
Hybrid / electric cars
New emerging markets (hydrogen)
Increased income and purchasing power in developed countries
Mercedes-Benz brand story
The foundations of the work are built on four corporate values:
• Respect: “We show respect for our employees, customers and business partners.”
• Passion: “Our passion allows us to do our best every day; it is the basis of our success. “
• Discipline: “For us, discipline means taking on challenges and achieving goals, taking into account different interests.”
• Integrity: “Integrity makes us successful in the long run and contributes to a functioning society”.
One of the core values - integrity, is a central part of their organizational culture.
The values listed above are the basis for the organizational values of all Daimler Group companies. They have been set out in the Integrity Code. This is based on a shared understanding of the values they have developed with the employees and sets out the principles that must underpin their daily conduct. These principles include respect for the law and rights, honesty, responsibility, mutual respect, openness, and transparency. These guidelines help employees make the right ethical decisions in difficult business situations.
Even in cooperation with business partners, the crucial requirement is integrity. Their booklet Ethical Business: Our Business Partner Expectations outlines the ethical principles and related expectations of their business partners, which is intended for all business partners around the world and should help raise awareness of the integrity and business ethics of the business.
In the future, four areas will radically change the nature of mobility:
– greater connectivity of vehicles,
– advances in automated and autonomous driving,
– development of digital mobility and transport services; and
– electric mobility.
Their goal is to continue to be a leading vehicle manufacturer while developing into a leading mobility service provider. Every strategic action revolves around one thing, a customer.
The new 5C strategy aims to:
– strengthen their global core business (Core),
– become a leader in new future areas (Case),
– adapt their culture and culture
– Strengthen their divisional structure (Company).
– The measure of all these strategic components is their Customers.
In doing so, they want to achieve profitable growth, increase the value of the company and fundamentally shape the future of mobility.
Their mission is:
– inspire customers in everything they do
– continually improve the efficiency of their quality management system and business processes
– continually improve the quality of their products and services
– Have a team-oriented and open-minded organizational culture that involves employees through leadership and the individual acceptance of delegated responsibilities
– be aware of the environment
– have professional relationships with their business partners.
Designers at Mercedes-Benz blend tradition and modernity into designing cars for the future. Their work focuses on “Sensual Purity” as an expression of modern luxury. A new design with reduced edges and recesses, it is designed to create clear shapes and sensuous surfaces that showcase high technology while evoking emotions. The design itself makes a big contribution to creating a brand image. For Mercedes-Benz designers, good design must be beautiful and intelligent at the same time.
One of the elements that is deeply rooted into the story of the Mercedes-Benz brand and greatly influences its identity, it is the country in which the company was established and in which it still has the principal seat. Germany is the largest economic power in Europe and fourth in the world scale. It is a leading exporter of automobiles. Famous for the best engineering knowledge based on accuracy, quality and power.
Mercedes-AMG, is a separate division Mercedes-Benz, which converts their cars into the most powerful versions of each class. AMG models usually have a more aggressive look, a higher level performance, better handling and stability, and more carbon parts fibers than conventional Mercedes-Benz models. Unlike in the mass serial Mercedes-AMG engines are manufactured according to the “One Man – One Engine” philosophy traditionally hand-assembled. These are aimed at customers who are particularly impressed performance and aggressive sporty looks.
Mercedes – MAYBACH
Especially in the S-Class segment, customers have very high expectations for exclusivity and individuality. The Mercedes-Maybach sub-brand offers redesigned ultra-luxury Mercedes-Benz cars to status-conscious customers in the exclusive upper market segment.
Mercedes-Benz visual element
Mercedes-Benz visual elements
“Mercedes” and “Mercedes-Benz” are registered trademarks and trademarks of Daimler AG. The name is made up of two parts and represents a merger of two car manufacturers. Together with the logo, they form one of the most recognized and respected brands in the world.
The Mercedes-Benz logo is the result of the unification of the Daimler logo – consisting of a three-pointed star named Mercedes inside the circle and the Benz brand logo – consisting of the Benz name surrounded by a laurel wreath. This has changed many times over time. It is a registered Mercedes-Benz trademark and is considered one of the most recognizable brand logos in the world. The three-pointed star today represents Gottlieb Daimler’s ambitions for universal motoring – “on land, in water, and in the air”. The logo can be seen on all Mercedes-Benz vehicles, on official websites, various catalogs, and other marketing materials, on showroom buildings, etc.
The font and style of texts are constant throughout the communication channels. The kernel of the message is always written in condensed Corporate A. Explanatory information is written in Corporate S. Generally, the text is left-aligned, in special cases, it can be centered, right-aligned, or dynamically aligned. Placement and size are flexible in terms of optimal readability and font hierarchy.
The 4-color code determines the color perception of the Mercedes-Benz brand. It is used constantly and each color has a purpose. These colors are deep black, plain white, silver and blue. The 4-color code is used differently depending on the context, so it does not have to be used in its entirety.
Mercedes-Benz has changed its slogan several times since its inception. Some of these were:
– “Unlike Any Other”,
– “Engineered to move the human spirit”,
– »Mercedes-Benz. The future of the automobile. “
The current slogan is: “The best or nothing.” This is appropriate because the brand is often associated with the terms luxury, prestige and of course the best – “The best”.
Website – Addresses
Mercedes-Benz’s official global website has its own website www.mercedes-benz.com. Each separate division has its own separate title, for example:
– Mercedes-Benz Canada: www.mercedes-benz.ca
– MB USA: www.mbusa.com
– Mercedes-Benz Middle East: www.mercedesbenzme.com
Website – Design
The official website and all the websites of the separate divisions are standardized, with the constant design mentioned above. They are available in several languages, prices are in different currencies and contain all the necessary information.
A few years ago, Mercedes-Benz embarked on a redesign of its showrooms in order to reconcile its online and exterior brand image. The old blue logo has been replaced by a white illuminated version of the logo on a black background. This makes the logo stand out and provides better visibility. In the past, it was on a separate sign, but now it is located on the outside of the showrooms. Inside, pastel colors have been replaced with black and white, and the furniture is now walnut.
Mercedes-Benz online presence analysis
For the purpose of researching and evaluating Mercedes-Benz property in the eyes of consumers, we also conducted a netnography. Netnography is a method of online consumer observation in places where these consumers communicate, share opinions and experiences. This can be a treasure trove of useful information for us as well as researchers as well as for brand managers. People share information online without reservation and withholding the truth. Based on this, we can come to interesting conclusions.
We tackled the netnography by outlining the goal. We were curious about where online, the customers, fans and potential customers of Mercedes-Benz are staying, how the brand itself communicates with consumers, and what we can learn from this in the context of brand assets in the eyes of consumers.
The second step was the identification of communities and their classification. We recognized 5 different communities or communities. meeting points where customers, potential customers, and fans of the Mercedes-Benz brand are staying in either a community-created or self-created community.
We have included:
– Independent blogs and news sites
– Communities under the auspices of Mercedes-Benz
– Accounts on social networks owned by Mercedes-Benz
– Accounts on social networks owned by Mercedes-Benz fans
– Online Communities and Forums
Given the diversity of these communities, the findings are also different for each of the communities involved. In the following, each of the included community categories will be analyzed based on the amount of information it provides us and on the basis of the attitude, consumers have towards the brand itself. Sitechecker.pro was used to analyze the traffic to some websites.
Independent blogs and news sites
Independent blogs and news sites for Mercedes-Benz are the first stop for ‘unofficial’ information on Mercedes-Benz vehicles and, in particular, oncoming vehicles. The websites we selected for analysis make it difficult to determine who the visitors are, but we can conclude that the target audience is Mercedes-Benz brand enthusiasts and people who want to know a little more, a little earlier. Many articles are related to unofficial and unconfirmed information on new vehicle models, and occasionally photos of pre-production vehicles that are not officially released by Mercedes-Benz are published. We also analyzed the comments on certain articles and found out that the comments of the visitors are often detailed and are definitely about connoisseurs of the brand and their products.
Number of monthly visits: 505 287
Content-Type: News, Unofficial Photos of Masked Vehicles, Columns
Target Audience: Mercedes-Benz fans and connoisseurs
Content creators: Brand lovers with in-depth knowledge of everything Mercedes-Benz
Interaction: comments on articles many times longer and with brand knowledge displayed
Monthly Visits: Hidden
Content-type: news, videos, unofficial camouflage photos, columns
Target Audience: Mercedes-Benz fans and connoisseurs
Content creators: Brand lovers with in-depth knowledge of everything Mercedes-Benz (team of editors and writers)
Interaction: less comment, more interaction by sharing and liking content on their Facebook page. Content is more attractive to share, contains more video content.
The number of monthly visits: 1,55 mil.
Content-Type: New vehicle reviews, news, videos, unofficial camouflage photos, columns
Target Audience: Mercedes-Benz fans and connoisseurs, as well as potential buyers
Content creators: Brand lovers with in-depth knowledge of everything Mercedes-Benz (team of editors and writers)
Interaction: less comment, more interaction by sharing and liking content on their Facebook page. The site also contains one of the major online forums on Mercedes-Benz topics (forum analysis follows).
Around the Mercedes-Benz brand itself, there are several unofficial news and blogging websites that, with a high visit rate ($ 1.55m per MBWorld), keep those fans of the brand interested who want more than the dry technical information provided by Mercedes-Benz. Although these sites are the focal point of brand lovers, we have also come across a number of articles that are not just about the Mercedes-Benz brand. Therefore, it is also a place where potential buyers can also get real opinions about specific vehicles and their problems. The same goes for comments, vehicle connoisseurs and fans (and opponents) can make more critical and constructive comments compared to comments on social networks. In any case, such websites and reader interaction indicate a high degree of brand loyalty. At the same time, such high-traffic websites can also have a profound impact on brand image and perceived quality. According to our observation, we would say that the impact of the websites involved in the brand image and other elements of BZ Mercedes-Benz’s assets is significantly more positive than negative. Basically, this is a great brand promotion that costs Mercedes-Benz nothing. The downside, however, is that they cannot control their reporting.
Communities under the wings of Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz has under its wing clubs of drivers and fans of the brand worldwide, and above all these communities are widespread in Germany. The official website states that 90,000 people and 80 active clubs are involved in clubs worldwide. We also have a Mercedes-Benz club in Slovenia. Club management is left to the club members, but Mercedes-Benz acts to assist in organizing the events and by providing club cards, it provides additional benefits in terms of service and purchases. Photos and reports of club events are published on the official Mercedes-Benz site and on social networks. For the brand itself, this means spreading goodwill and serving as a tool to attract potential customers and retain existing customers. (Mercedes-Benz, 2019)
Given the prevalence of clubs and the number of events posted on their website, this is a great indicator of strong brand loyalty in the eyes of consumers. From a review of content posted after club events, we can conclude that for some of these people, Mercedes-Benz is a lifestyle and not just a means of transportation. This, to potential customers, indicates a great brand image and perceived quality. Given the involvement of Mercedes-Benz and the benefits offered to club members, it is clear that they are aware of these benefits on the brand property when managing the brand. Many of these events also take place at popular destinations.
Accounts on social networks owned by Mercedes-Benz
Being on social networks is extremely important for a brand like Mercedes-Benz. That the influence of social networks on the brand property in the eyes of consumers is taken seriously is evident from their wide online presence and activities and interactions with customers and potential customers. They are featured on the following social networks: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. Each of the following will be analyzed based on the number of followers, the types of content posted, the amount of public interaction with the brand, and the analysis of comments/reactions on the last 10 posts (a survey of social networks was conducted on 5/12/2019).
|Number of followers||Content-type||The amount and the way of interaction||Analysis of comments and reactions of the last 10 posts|
|21M likes and 20.7M followers||Video content, photos of new and classic models, event reporting, press releases, longer recordings||Extremely high level of public interaction, a feature that is typical of FB posts is tagging friends in comments (content is expanding), FB page editor also responds to comments (sense of community)||Overwhelmingly positive responses with many comments (average 131 comments per post)|
and lots of positive reactions (an average of 3400 likes, hearts, etc.) and an average of only 50 negative reactions per post (anger and sadness reactions)
|24.3M||Photos and videos up to 60 sec in length, high-quality content, each post hashtagged.||171,849 likes per post and 258 comments on average.|
The Instagram profile editor also responds to comments here and creates a sense of community.
|There are no negative reacion emojis on Instagram, so we could only analyze comments for negative responses. On average, we found 1 negative comment on 100 positive comments, which was mainly related to environmental issues.|
|3.4M||Shorter posts, photos and videos, many posts carry “hashtags”||A smaller number of followers also results in a lower level of interaction. But there is much sharing content forward than on other platforms. The account editor replies to the comments.||60 comments, 30 comments and 500 likes on average.|
|1.14M subscribers||Longer videos, interesting topics (customer stories)||Lots of commentary on clips where they include celebrities for advertising purposes. More communication even among the viewers themselves.||Lots of positive comments on celebrity footage. Even so, people praise the quality of the content and there are very few negative reactions.|
|210 000 followers||Photos and infographics.||Extremely rare commentary on posts, but many post views||There have been no comments on the last 10 or more posts. However, pinterest audiences are interested in published content based on the volume of profile visits (790,000 people per month).|
|/||Photos and a special section of the Tumblr site where they only post photos of vehicle owners||People share their content on their Tumblr pages or just “like” it|
Because Tumblr is not the most widely used social network, there is less interaction.
|The average post from the last 10 receives 50 likes and 5 content shares.|
|155 908 followers||Same as Facebook.||Much less than other platforms.||Average for the last 10 posts 180 likes, but few comments. In any case, being present on this social network is well received and contributes to the brand.|
According to the analysis of interactions through social networks, we can definitely say that brand loyalty is high, people perceive it as high quality and brand image through good management of social networks is in a good reputation. The sheer amount of consumer interaction indicates a passion for the brand. Mercedes-Benz also uses celebrities to reach potential customers. In the latest campaign for the electric Mercedes-Benz EQC, they hired a popular younger generation singer called “The Weeknd” as the creative director of the campaign. Posts with his presence also reach 10x higher levels of interaction and bring the brand closer to Millennials and Generation Z, who will be buying cars in the near future. All this has a positive effect on brand recognition and image. It is also worth mentioning that on several social networks we have noticed how the brand itself is. The social network manager replies to any comments. This is great for building relationships with their audience and creating a sense of community. Many times, large corporations have to post on social networks fully automated and there is no back interaction from the company.
Accounts on social networks owned by Mercedes-Benz fans
Brand lovers and employees also play a big role in the brand expansion. Notably on Facebook and Instagram, we detected a huge presence of fan groups, pages, and Instagram accounts. We typed in a search request for “Mercedes fan” on Instagram and found over 100 accounts with a total of over 2M followers. This is all content created by fans (or opponents, much less so) and rounded up on social networks. There are also many groups on Facebook aimed at owners, fans and potential buyers who would get advice from other fans before buying. On its social networks, Mercedes-Benz also shares the stories and everyday experiences of their employees.
On Instagram, however, we also found a very popular profile of employee Michael Kübler, a motor technician at Mercedes AMG’s sports department, during the survey. Michael shares with his 236,000 followers the background behind the production of Mercedes engines. Through this work, he brings the brand closer to the people and, as an employee, guarantees them the quality of their vehicles. Emphasizing and displaying employee satisfaction has a great impact on brand image and perceived quality.
Online communities and forums
The last item in the analysis of online communities, however, is forums and other forms of online communities. This is, in our opinion, the most useful for the purposes of our research. The brand itself can learn a lot from following online forums. Forums discuss news, problems, people help each other, post pictures of their own vehicles, post guides for easy repairs. For the purposes of the survey, we identified the 4 largest online communities (shown in the diagram above). We analyzed in detail the most visited online forum on Mercedes-Benz called the “MBWorld forum”.
In analyzing the MBWorld Forum, because of the size of the community itself, we wanted to focus our work on the appearance of negative publicity; Through these topics, we wanted to see if, despite the poor quality messages, users were going to defend or criticize the Mercedes-Benz brand.
MBWorld forum is an online forum with 437885 members, 7698819 million messages and 705 706 topics. It is an incredibly large community where drivers, fans and curious potential buyers talk in every possible topic related to Mercedes-Benz. The forum is divided into sections that bind to individual vehicles, engine types, and general debates intended for socializing members. (Mbworld.org, 2019)
As mentioned, we were looking for topics where the conversation was about poor quality vehicles. In the forum search engine, we have entered the phrase “bad quality” and “engine failure”. We found 50 topics where drivers either reported total engine failures or various small problems such as creaking elements of the car interior. We reviewed the topics and found the following differences:
– defects on new cars recognized by Mercedes-Benz
– defects on vehicles precisely from warranty, negligence and poor production quality
To the extent that defects occurred on new vehicles, users were extremely lenient and loyal to the brand. There have been several reports where users advocated Mercedes-Benz and wrote about how normal it was and that such mistakes could be expected. However, some users have also written about how such defects are in no way acceptable to the luxury manufacturer and that, despite warranty repairs, this should not be happening. Opinions are divided but the level of brand loyalty messages is higher than those who criticize the brand for such errors. Brand loyalty is certainly at a high level, despite discussions about perceived poor vehicle quality.
The second case involved minor and major errors beyond the warranty period. This includes everything from complete engine failures to minor electronics failures. This is where we perceive less affection for the brand. Most of the comments condemned such errors as completely unacceptable and inadmissible. This is where the belief that Mercedes-Benz is a car that is durable and reliable and in line with the reality described in the conversation has come to the fore. Some users with the same car model have attributed these problems to them and that poor maintenance is likely to be the fault.
When reviewing communities, we were amazed at the amount of discussion and information a buyer or potential buyer can get in those communities. At the same time, it is a treasure trove of information for brand managers at Mercedes-Benz. Communities contain everything from step-by-step guides to users who, with their knowledge, help daily people with a poor experience in Mercedes-Benz official services. However, we have found that the limit to where fans of these vehicles will advocate the brand. In any case, this limit is very high and, based on a long tradition of quality, they will trust the brand significantly more than is the case with inferior car brands. A typical example to support this claim was customer loyalty, despite major rust problems from 1990 to 1998. For prestige cars of that time, the body was covered by a layer of zinc that protected the car from rust. Because of the poor quality of the steel, Mercedes-Benz still had major problems with rust, customers were upset. Mercedes promised a 30-year anti-corrosion guarantee in 1998, although rust problems persisted until 2005. Nevertheless, the brand had excellent business results during that time. This is a result of the brand loyalty and image that Mercedes has created before. With good brand image and perceived quality, the brand can survive such critical periods and regain its glory over the years. They experienced a similar story from 2007-2009 when they released a poor series of automatic transmissions.
Short in-depth interviews
For the purposes of determining the actual valuation of the Mercedes-Benz brand property, we also conducted 20 short in-depth interviews. This was a crucial part of the Mercedes-Benz brand analysis.
The topic of in-depth interviews was the Mercedes-Benz brand. In designing the interview, we put together 11 questions to test for brand awareness, image, perceived quality, and loyalty. Two or three questions were identified for each of the listed elements of the brand property. In conducting the interview, we kept to the outlined questions. The interviewees were only helped with problems with understanding issues, which were not enough. After conducting the interviews, we did a literal transcription. We are also aware that due to the size of the sample, the results cannot be generalized to the entire population. The interviewees were divided into three age groups and by gender. We were interested in how different generations and gender affect the potential perception of a brand. We realize 20 short interviews are not enough to gain statistically significant data.
– Which automobile brands can you list currently?
– Which German car brands can you currently list?
– Do you know the Mercedes-Benz brand?
– List at least one attribute that you attribute to the Mercedes-Benz brand?
– List at least one benefit of the Mercedes-Benz brand?
– What personality trait that would you attribute to the Mercedes-Benz brand?
– If the Mercedes-Benz brand was an animal, what animal would it be?
– Tell the first associations that come with the phrase “Mercedes Benz”:
– How do you perceive the quality of the Mercedes-Benz brand?
– How do you perceive the owners and drivers of the Mercedes-Benz brand?
– Have you ever considered buying a Mercedes-Benz vehicle? Why or why? why not?
Group 1 (ages 18-30) findings
For the first and second questions, all interviewees in Group 1 showed a high level of awareness of the Mercedes-Benz brand. Also, everyone knew this brand. On brand image issues, the women in Group 1 emphasized comfort, innovation, quality, and Mercedes-Benz drivers as distinguished sophisticated people. Men in Group 1 emphasized quality when it came to brand image issues. One of the women and one of the men also emphasized fuel economy and low fuel consumption. Both genders perceive the brand as of high quality. All Group 1 interviewees would be happy to buy a Mercedes-Benz. Some because of the image and one of the women because of the quality. There is no significant difference between genders regarding the perception of the brand property.
Group 2 (ages 30-45) findings
Interviewees in the age group of 30-45 also knew everyone about the brand. In Group 2, although men listed several car brands, all interviewees, regardless of gender, called on the Mercedes-Benz brand. The women in Group 1 perceive the Mercedes-Benz brand as prestigious, of high quality and safety. As in Group 1, one of the women emphasized the innovativeness of this brand. She emphasized that Mercedes-Benz invented the first vehicle to develop the air-bag. As the first of all interviewees, women in Group 2 emphasized the excessive use of financial resources when purchasing this brand, while the second interviewee pointed out the high price. Both interviewees emphasized this with a very negative tone. The high-priced interviewee perceives the Mercedes-Benz brand as a brand for the wealthy because it is an expensive brand. The same interviewee is also the only one who would not buy this brand because of the high price. For men in Group 2, the price was never mentioned. However, drivers and owners are perceived as more affluent with enough money to buy. The brand is perceived as prestigious, fast, safe, elegant and luxurious. Everyone in Group 5 compares this brand to strong and dominant animals. Everyone in Group 2 perceives the Mercedes-Benz brand as the highest quality, top quality brand. One of the men in Group 2 is also highlighting an established brand.
Group 3 (ages 45+) findings
Group 3 interviewees were 45 and older. Everyone in Group 3 knew the Mercedes-Benz brand. In addition, everyone, regardless of gender, recalled it from the memory of questions 1 and 2. Both genders strongly emphasized quality, especially men, where each of the interviewees emphasized quality. As a brand benefit, both genders emphasized sustainability. Men also emphasized some of the more tech-savvy things like the rear-wheel drive. In naming the animals representing the Mercedes-Benz brand, they referred to animals such as horse, tiger, jaguar, and lion. We can conclude that they associate this brand with dominance, power, and speed. The women associate the brand with “Made in Germany”, prestige and a car for the elderly. For men, however, the first associations are “Germanness”, German quality and importance and prestige. In perceived quality, they have very similar and positive opinions. Men emphasize recognition, tradition, and quality. Women, however, emphasize German quality, high price and the fact that they are informed about the brand through a partner. When interviewed about Mercedes-Benz owners and drivers, the women mentioned upper-class people who could be arrogant, more affluent. One of the women, however, pointed out that she perceives Mercedes-Benz drivers differently according to their age. He perceives older people as arrogant young people as normal drivers. Men perceive the owners of these vehicles as older people who know what they are driving. They are also perceived by upper-class people and fans who love power and prestige. Two out of three women in Group 3 would not buy Mercedes-Benz because of the high price and high maintenance prices. One of the men would also not buy Mercedes-Benz because it seems too expensive.
By categorizing into different age groups, we also wanted to check the stereotype that says Mercedes-Benz is a vehicle for older, wealthier people. While all groups perceived the brand as expensive and prestigious, young people were still interested in buying Mercedes-Benz. Over the years, the Mercedes-Benz brand has sought to approach the millennial generation with its vehicle offering and marketing activities, and according to our research, they have succeeded. An example of a campaign aimed at the younger generation is the aforementioned campaign for the new electric Mercedes-Benz EQC, which includes young singer The Weeknd. While comparing the groups, we noticed that the older the person we interviewed, the more they had a realistic view of their ability to buy. The older ones emphasized the high price more than the younger ones. All groups and both genders had extremely high perceived brand quality. Men in all three groups emphasized social status and brand recognition, while women did not mention it.
In general, we might say that we have noticed some minor differences between the different aged interviewees and also between the sexes. For a more representative sample and claims that could be generalized to the entire population, many more interviews should be conducted.
Mercedes-Benz brand value in the eyes of the consumer
Based on the conducted netnography and short in-depth interviews, we can evaluate the assets based on the 4 categories provided by David Aaker. We will evaluate each category individually on the basis of 10 variables, while also giving an overall assessment of the brand’s assets in the eyes of consumers. We will rate each category on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 is considered the best and 1 the worst.
Based on the activity and the sheer size of its presence on websites and social networks, it can be argued that Mercedes-Benz brand awareness is very high. Their social networks and online forums are one of the largest on the web. Even in the interviews conducted, all of the 20 interviewees recalled the brand from memory when we asked them to list any car brands. Also, this indicates a high level of brand awareness. High brand awareness is also influenced by the age of the brand itself and the fact that Mercedes-Benz is considered the inventor of the car. They are present in the highest levels of motorsport (F1), they are present in many films, music videos, and their star logo is extremely recognizable.
Based on the performed netnography, we rated the brand image as very good. We detected little negative comments and generally perceived a positive attitude towards the brand. While analyzing the online forums, we came across some of the more well-known problems of Mercedes-Benz vehicles such as the rust problem in the 90s and the problem with the 7G automatic transmission in 2007. Nevertheless, we noticed that Mercedes-Benz solved these problems with a good attitude towards consumer and quality warranty services. In these cases, we did not notice a significant negative impact on the brand. Netnography also saw how they maintain a relationship with their customers, potential customers, or just brand friends when managing their brand. They also repeatedly post content related to their employees on their social networks. They also publish content sent to them by their customers. Interacting with their audience and emphasizing employee satisfaction has a positive impact on the brand personality and image of the organization.
In our interviews, we asked 5 questions related to brand image. In the vast majority, the answers were very positive. Two interviewees, however, pointed out that Mercedes-Benz is a car for older and arrogant drivers. In general, the interviewees perceived the brand as being of high quality and successful.
Perceived brand quality
With netnography, most of the perceived quality was learned in the analysis of online forums. As we were unsure of their perception of the quality of the brand, despite the large consumer involvement, we reviewed several conversations related to individual car models. While reviewing these conversations, we noticed that high perceived quality was a big reason to buy a Mercedes-Benz car from certain users. Later, for purposes of brand loyalty assessment, we also reviewed conversations where users reported major or minor car problems. Despite reporting problems, many users defended the brand and preferred to attribute certain problems to an accident. We did not perceive that vehicle problem would significantly affect their perception of quality.
In conducting the interviews, we found that all 20 interviewees had a high-quality rating. However, some of the interviewees also emphasized the high cost.
Again, the best way to analyze brand loyalty has come from netnography, more specifically the analysis of online communities and clubs sponsored by Mercedes-Benz. Being a member of the Mercedes-Benz Official Club and attending the event means living with the brand, and for many, it means a way of life. As mentioned above, there are many clubs and members, and the brand itself offers its members benefits and helps organize events. This is a sign that many people are deeply loyal to the brand. We have also detected a high level of loyalty in online forums. However, in the aforementioned discussions about car problems, we also noticed comments from users who were disappointed with the brand and would not be loyal to it in the future. Some users have also suggested that Mercedes-Benz is no longer what it used to be and that there is no reason for high brand loyalty.
Overall brand evaluation
In our opinion, based on netnography and interviews, an extremely high score is justified. Netnographic analysis has shown a great deal of effort on the part of the brand itself, which benefits virtually all relevant online social networks and shows a great deal of effort and interaction with its audience. The same applies to activities related to the organization of clubs and club events. This is something not every motoring brand does. This is precisely what sets Mercedes-Benz apart from the competition and introduces the brand as a way of life and not just as a car manufacturer. High perceived quality, however, creates a certain amount of pressure on the brand itself. Any deviation from the quality that brand lovers are accustomed to quickly publicize and cause a decrease in the perceived quality of the brand.
We can also support our assessment by analyzing market indicators. The sales figures were found in the annual reports of Daimler AG, which also includes Mercedes-Benz. At the end of 2018, Mercedes-Benz became the leading brand in the premium class for the third consecutive year. In 2018, they sold a total of 2.3 million. vehicles, which for them was the most successful year in company history. It was also the 8th record year for Mercedes-Benz in a row. The largest growth in sales and market share was recorded in the Asia-Pacific region. In China, sales were up 11%. Sales in the European market fell slightly in 2018. (Daimler, 2019)
According to the latest statista.com data, Mercedes-Benz’s market share in the European market in October 2019 was 6.3%. It has a significant market share in the industry and puts Mercedes-Benz in the top 10 car brands in terms of sales. Judging from the performance in international markets, it can be argued that our assessment would not be significantly different in other markets. The only exception might be North America, where strong local patriotism is present. Nevertheless, the US ranks second in terms of sales volume. (Statista, 2018)