DS boss: brand awareness must come before sales push

DS will focus on growing its retail operations and raising brand awareness rather than “going for volume” after sales were hit by Covid-19, its UK managing director has said. 

It will also offer six cars by late 2021, with the 9 saloon and 4 hatchback joining the 3 Crossback crossover and 7 Crossback SUV and their respective electric and plug-in hybrid E-Tense variants. 

“Over the year-to-date position, we have maintained our market share,” Alain Descat told Autocar, while admitting that year-to-date sales had fallen in line with the market, down 45.4%. 

“We’re at 0.14% market share, which makes us a small challenger. We know it will take time, maybe 20-30 years, to be up with the premium brands. The UK is one of the most competitive markets in Europe for premium cars.” 

DS has registered just 1146 cars in the UK this year. That is less than 10% of fellow PSA Group brand Citroën’s total and around 2% of Mercedes’, although more than rival (and future sibling) Alfa Romeo’s. 

By contrast, DS’s market share in France now tops 10%. 

Descat added: “We need to lower the threshold for customers to discover who we are. We need to explain where we’re from and the uniqueness of our proposition and explain our product.” 

He also noted positives: the high uptake of electrified cars, which now account for more than a quarter of sales, and impressive first-quarter fleet-average CO2 emissions of 79.7g/km. The nearest rival brand is at around 110g/km. 

The immediate priority for DS is pushing forward with an online buying platform, said to be ready “in a few weeks”. It won’t come at the expense of dealers, which are growing and splitting from Citroën outlets. “We want to mirror the physical journey with an effective online journey,” said Descat. 

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