By Berenice Ring, Professor at Fundação Getulio Vargas
Aston Martin has a dealership at São Paulo’s trendy Avenida Europa. Lamborghini has one as well. Office space in that avenue does not come cheap, and the rent per square foot is almost nonsensical. Yet these stores are neither small nor modest.
Since October 2009, 17 Lamborghinis have been sold in Brazil for an average price of R$1.6 million (± US$950,000). Surely, to sell 17 units of a vehicle aimed at such a select audience, none of these brands would need to invest in a showroom. They could easily locate their prospective clients and contact them directly.
Why then does Lamborghini keep this amazing store and engage in social media to interact with its fans? And why is it always present at exhibitions like the São Paulo Auto Show, where visitors come in all sizes and shapes except that of buyers of their cars? Why does it invest in communication?
To win a special place in the minds and hearts of their audiences, luxury brands must be admired by their customers and potential buyers. But they also must be desired and have their value acknowledged by those who cannot buy their products—the brand fans who visit the store at night and covet the car through the store window, who create communities on Facebook and post comments on Twitter, and who form long queues at the Auto Show to see the brand’s latest model. These fans help to establish the throne from where brands such as Lamborghini will reign for the few. This is the principle of exclusivity.
Through communication and social networks, luxury brands like Lamborghini disseminate their dream and their magic—and create aspirations. They enable the “sense of belonging,” brokering relationships between people who would never meet otherwise and making it possible for them to feel connected.
This dynamic engenders very clear perceptions. Buying a Lamborghini gives the owner much more than the thrill of accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.4 seconds. The machine comes bundled with a whole set of meanings. Prestige is the first item in the package. The buyer becomes part of an extremely select tribe, recognized not only by their peers but also by those will never be part of it.
A taste for speed, sporty style, and bold design is ingrained in the imagination of the brand’s ambassadors, whether they are owners who take their machines for a ride on weekends or fans who collect photos on the walls of their homes. Lamborghini’s brand manager understands that well. Aston Martin’s does, too. And so do most well-managed luxury brands.