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The steady growth of demand for automobiles in India over the last few years has not only made the industry highly lucrative but has also increased competition amongst the car manufacturers.Different companies are trying to take advantage of this growth in demand by introducing more models and features in their vehicles.Various techniques that can be employed are often the different types of marketing and promotional campaigns that brands embark on in an attempt to strengthen, focus, narrow, widen and sometime redefine certain aspects of the brand image (Sengupta, 2005, p.138), as it is arguably the most influential factor when it comes to differentiation from the competition – often an invaluable asset, especially in highly competitive markets (such as the automobile industry).
Brand image is essentially the reputation of a brand, and is a representation of the attributes, appeal, heritage, values and benefits of a certain brand, in the eyes of the customer.
As such, it is something developed and strengthened over time and applied almost without exception to all of the products and services offered by the brand.
There are a myriad of different opinions and attempts to provide a logical explanation to the absolute and unshakeable dominance of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the premium segment of the automobile industry, ranging from statements about their mechanical and technical innovation and superiority to descriptions of their heritage and history.
However there is reason to believe that while all these theories are valid, the truth lies elsewhere.
Asparuh Karastoyanov The goal of this paper is to understand the structure, significance and implications of brand images of the three largest German automobile manufacturer’s in the premium market segment – Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz - as well as to form conclusions that would outline the effect of these images on consumer behavior in Bulgaria.The results have clearly identified not only the bastion elements of each manufacturer’s brand image and have categorically manifested the fact that consumer behavior in the premium segment is predominantly affected by the brand’s images of quality, luxury and style, but that their buying decisions are also coordinated greatly with the perception of given vehicle’s image by society.The second goal of this paper was to draw upon the attained conclusions in order to be able to potentially relay a certain amount of information to these manufacturers about the exceptional significance of their brand image and suggest possible ways to maintaining and exploiting it to retain current customers and attract new ones.However, while the brand image might draw upon certain tangible aspects, the reality is that they only serve to allow customers to make certain assumptions and judgments about the brand in question, assumptions and judgments that sometimes are not based on actual facts and figures, hence revealing the highly prejudicial and subjective nature of brand image (Wilson & Blumenthal, 2008, p.58-59).While companies themselves are capable of affecting their brand image, often the influence they can exert is marginal.The current paper provides an insight into the customers‟ preferred medium of advertising and gives knowledge about the attributes that are considered important by customers while deciding to purchase a car. As per the findings, internet came out to be the most preferred medium of advertising used by customers to gather information.Amongst the attributes, mileage/fuel efficiency is considered to be most important by customers in influencing their choice of car.Prominent examples of this in the automobile industry include the perception of Mercedes-Benz for impeccable engineering, quality and class, Volvo as being the benchmark for car safety, Honda and Toyota for their unfaltering reliability, BMW for dynamic and performance capabilities, and Rolls-Royce as the ultimate expression of luxury.The actual validity of these opinions is highly debatable as different manufacturers often provide models that offer these aforementioned attributes much more than the brands they are typically associated with.Regardless of what country a person lives in, almost everyone has access to a huge amount of choice when it comes to manufacturer availability, able to easily see, test, purchase, run and service vehicles of all possible origins, and so it therefore becomes apparent that such a heavy market saturation is likely to result in a large amount of complication when it comes to manufacturer and model differentiation.Nonetheless, three brands always enjoy the largest amount of interest and desirability, and stand out above the others – Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.