Bentley is undergoing some important changes. Bentley’s marketing strategy has to complement its message with that of the parent company which is itself going through an important transitional period.
So, let’s see what is happening and how the company from Crewe has structured its marketing.
It is just of a few days ago the confirmation of the news from October that claimed the British marque would have passed under the management of Audi. In the context of VW’s Together 2025+ Strategy aimed at developing a strong focus on electric mobility and the group’s competitiveness in the future automotive industry, it is crucial for the German manufacturer to exploit and further develop the synergy already established between its luxury brands. This is important also toward the second target of the business strategy which is efficiency, fixed and materials cost reduction. Audi and Porsche share a significant amount of components with both Lamborghini and Bentley.
Alex Hitzinger, ex-engineer for Toyota Motorsport, and later for Cosworth, Red Bull Technology, Porsche, Apple, and VW Commercial Vehicles division, will head the Artemis project with the objective of quickly develop market-leading technologies, for electric, self-driving, and automated cars. After the 2017 concept Aicon, currently, the first project, codename Landjet, will showcase Audi’s vision of the electric car of the future, with long-range and autonomous driving capabilities, 5g, and use of AR. It is born from Audi and Porsche’s Premium Platform Electric (PPE) that will be used for several other midsize, crossovers, and SUVs. Taking advantage of the current synergies and further development in electric mobility Artemis will also develop Bentley’s next model and first full-electric which according to Board Member Matthias Rabe will come in 2025 to complete a lineup that by 2026 will be entirely electric or hybrid.
First an overview. Bentley is positioning itself not just as a leader in luxury mobility, but in sustainable luxury mobility. This is an incredibly important topic nowadays as efforts for sustainability are taken in every sector. Thus, a solid strategy with clear deadlines in this sense is incredibly powerful and shows strong vision and innovation capabilities.
The most important tool, in this respect, is the Beyond 100 Strategy. Along with the product line development mentioned at the end of the previous paragraph, CEO Adrian Hallmark claims that by 2030 Bentley will become carbon neutral and its plant even carbon positive. Additionally, from that year on, it will exclusively produce electric cars abandoning completely the internal combustion engine.
Like other luxury automakers, Bentley is very popular and has a wide following on all the major social media, except (for now at least) for Tik Tok where, as of now, Lamborghini is the only company with an official account.
A noteworthy and rather successful campaign published in this period is the one dedicated to the Christmas holiday linked below:
The video along with bringing fun content gives Bentley the opportunity to showcase bits of their personalisation process and laboratories.
Secondly, since March 2019, Bentley adopted an almost unique practice (Porsche uses it the same). It publishes the vehicles’ Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure results (WLTP) for fuel mileage and CO2 emissions in the caption along with each post regarding one of the models in the line-up, as in the example below. This is important for accountability, which in the words of Bentley’s CEO is crucial for companies today, but it is also likely to produce a positive effect on the audience as the line-up gradually shifts toward hybrid and electric powertrains.
The overall mix of content can be divided into five categories: car launches, personalisation program, car capabilities showcasing, motorsport, ad campaign (more aimed at creating an emotional connection than focusing on specific product characteristics or features).
Lastly, like for any luxury automaker today, the largest exposure is given by third parties such as magazines or reviewers. A quick YouTube search gives back a number of videos counting several million views easily exceeding those of the official channel.
A big part of the customer experience and Bentley’s marketing is the range of events tailored to existing and potential clients. They are effectively what turns vehicle ownership into a proper experience and vary from car launches, to drive experience, to motorsport events and even lifestyle events.
Venues and organisation reflect the brand identity and are always set in very refined locations hosting cocktail parties, music, and first-hand demonstrations.
As for driving experiences, clients are invited to test-drive the cars in special locations or on racetracks where they can experience the cars’ capabilities.
Communications with enthusiasts and clients happen through various channels. One is the website newsroom which reports all the major updates regarding the company’s life and product line.
Additionally, in 2020 the pandemic sped up a process that was already in development with the increasing digitisation of the customer journey. Even before the actual purchase, the use of VR and AR are being integrated to showcase new models to prospects. This has been even more relevant during the lockdown as an alternative option.
Two distinct Mobile apps are used to cater to clients’ needs. The ‘My Bentley’ app is reserved for owners to track positions and important information about their cars. It also improves the overall experience by providing remote services such as blocking the vehicle or heating the interior in advance. The ‘Bentley Network’ instead is more related to the company’s lifestyle where owners can get invitations to exclusive events and driving experiences, quickly get in touch with dealerships and most of all communicate with other owners effectively creating a closer community.
Finally, other apps are also offered for specific models’ remote controls and services whether they are Continental GT, Flying Spur, or Bentayga.
Motorsport is the other pillar of Bentley’s marketing with its almost 100-year long history, and it is supported too in different ways. As mentioned in the article How Covid-19 Turbocharged the E-Sports Racing Industry, due to the pandemic E-Sports got increasing popularity.
Bentley entered the SRO E-Sport GT Series in 2020 participating in different classes. As for real-life events, the company promotes its activities with the Driving Academy to promote racing talents, but also with the organisation of Customer Race Teams and official competitions in numerous GT Series all over the world such as Intercontinental GT Challenge, GT World Challenge Europe, GT World Challenge Asia, British GT Championship, ADAC GT Masters and International GT Open.
Building on its strengths, Bentley develops its marketing strategy down to what seems the most minute detail to improve its image and the customer journey and experience. The enhancement of the motorsport activities and use of the latest technologies to offer better services even remotely are certainly the most prominent.
But with the climate change challenge, the automaker has also fully taken on the role of the market leader for a greener future more than many competitors. While this reflects the corporate direction of the parent company, some initiatives are unique within the luxury sector. The latest being the installation of a Hydrotreated vegetable oil fuelling facility in its HQ in Crewe for the production of ‘Green D+’ fuel. This is then used for the trucks moving components and other vehicles which add another relevant piece to the carbon neutrality puzzle.
Plans for Bentley’s next decade seem well laid-out and despite some major risk factors such as Brexit’s impact, the company looks on the right path and with a clear vision for its future.
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