Citroen DS3 is a small car that is marketed by the French automaker Citroen. The DS3 was originally launched in 2010. It comes in two main variants, the regular DS3 and the Cabrio. The car is in the supermini class, wherein it competes with the likes of the Mini Cooper, the Smart Fortwo and other very small passenger cars. This paper will examine the marketing of the DS3, with particular reference to the Australian context. The marketing will include the 4Ps of price, promotion, place, and product. The analysis will also determine the target market and market segmentation for this car. The core value proposition and other key marketing elements will be discussed as well. The analysis will be based on the marketing materials provided by the company online, with analysis rooted in marketing theory.
The automobile industry uses extensive segmentation of its products. Most companies in the industry operate globally, and typically will offer vehicles in most segments of the market. The segments are based on the type of vehicle, but each vehicle type will typically appeal to a portion of the overall automobile market. In that sense, the product is designed specifically to appeal to certain consumers. Because of this, the ideal situation for the manufacturer is that the target market's characteristics will not differ much around the world, so that the product can fit the broadest possible segment. For example, if Citroen sells the DS3 around the world, ideally the target customer in Australia, North America and Europe will have roughly the same characteristics, so that the design of the car remains appealing across countries and continents. In some cases, automakers will not market a given vehicle in a particular country if the market characteristics do not fit the vehicle's design and features.
There are some themes in automobile marketing that are relatively universal, and provide the framework for understanding the marketing of a product like the DS3. The first is that there is only ever a limited amount of customization available on a given vehicle. This is in part why there are so many product segments within the private consumer automobile market. The cost of developing a vehicle is very high, as are the fixed costs associated with automobile manufacturing. Thus, a high degree of product standardization is necessary in order take advantages of economies of scale in production. Standardization makes for some challenges in meeting consumer needs, but it supports the ability of companies to offer vehicles at prices middle-class consumers can afford.
Another generic feature of automobile marketing is that cars are typically sold through dealer networks. There are few exceptions to the rule. Dealers are often franchised, and sell only the vehicles of one company, or a stable of related companies. Citroen being a smaller manufacturer, it may need to share dealers in certain smaller markets, rather than having its down dealers. The dealers are responsible for the sales of the vehicles, but the manufacturer is ultimately responsible for the other elements of marketing, including the product, setting the base price, all of the promotion and determining what markets in which to sell the vehicle. The manufacturer will therefore need to have a strong sense of the target market, even if the manufacturer is not the final seller of the vehicle.
Market Segmentation and Target Market
The first point of segmentation in by geography. Citroen markets the DS3 in a number of different countries, and this report will focus on Australia. Within Australia, the marketing of the DS3 is governed by the location of the dealer network for Citroen. The dealers in a given territory should seek to sell to that entire area.. Citroen typically markets nationwide, or at the very least focused on the large cities, which contain most of the Australian population.
The second point of segmentation is by demographics. Demographic features include age, race, gender and other such characteristics. Typically, the category will have an appeal with a certain demographic profile, and then the vehicles within that category will seek to differentiate slightly within that demographic. The supermini category is targeted towards a younger, urban demographic. Buyers are typically in their 20s or 30s. They are educated, live in cities or possibly inner suburbs. The ad copy highlights values that are important to the younger car buyer. Consider the following copy from the DS3 web page:
"DS 3 gives you impressive freedom of expression through elegant...
Each DS 3 is unique and you can design yours to suit your individual style."
Key words in this text include 'freedom of expression' and 'individual style.' A massive produced vehicle is can never really be an expression of individualism, but the text conveys these values for a couple of reasons. This is positioned as a first vehicle, or at least a first new vehicle for the buyer, so it will give the buyer some freedom of mobility that they never had before. The younger buyer views a car as an expression to the world of who they are, just as their clothes, their phone, and other consumption choices do. The Citroen is a niche vehicle, as the brand is relatively small, so the DS3 offers a unique value proposition to the young buyer as a cool car that their friends maybe do not have.
The buyer is also likely to have some post-secondary education, in that he or she is able to buy a new car. This is someone who is starting to establish his or her identity as an adult, and the car is part of that. The DS3 buyer is therefore starting in the workplace and building a career. This person probably travelled overseas during gap year as well, and has some experience in the world. The small size of the car makes it most appealing to urban dwellers, people who need a car for things like getting to the beach, but who also value fuel efficiency and ease of parking in their urban environment.
The third method of segmenting the market is by psychographic. Psychographics help to understand the customer. The customer is a young, urban Australian with an education, starting a career and earning a salary typical of his or her generation. The car is gender neutral in terms of its positioning. Australians of any race, if they otherwise fit the demographic, are targeted for the DS3. The psychographic characteristics of this demographic are value on independence, on expressing oneself through their choice of vehicle. The brand is also positioned as a creative alternative, to differentiate itself from an otherwise "vanilla" category, and in that way to appeal to millennials more effectively. Their ads for this vehicle have been likened to Apple in terms of their marketing approach (Kay, 2013).
The company is seeking consumers who value creativity and modernity, as evidenced by the endline "Creative Technologie," a call to people who value creativity, and who inhabit a world where creativity is a key value. The focus on technology -- their ads feature ample visuals of the product -- is also a call to the millennial generation, consumers who were raised with technology and for whom technology is a critical element in their world. Citroen's approach is aligned with the values of its demographic, in particular the educated, urban millennial. This consumer is also worldly, and this high degree of worldliness and interconnectivity means that consumers in this market are relatively the same in terms of their demographic and psychographic composition around the world -- and indeed these are people who travel and live around the world. This fits with the distinctiveness for which the Citroen brand has historically been known (Meiners, 2014).
The DS brand is a supermini, which appeals to younger, urban consumers as a first new vehicle, something that gives them greater independence and freedom. Style is a key feature of the vehicle. Citroen has historically had a quirky sense of style (Meiners, 2014), and the DS represents a return to that after years of mimicking German and Japanese style innovations (Key, 2013). The DS is small, which allows it to come in at a price point to appeal to this market, but the styling attracts specifically an urban, younger consumer. This consumer does not have children (yet), so a small car is appropriate. The styling is unique, which should appeal to the creative, technology-obsessed segment of the broader demographic. The product has won praise for its ability to meet the needs of this market, through its emphasis on styling. Where style is important, reliability is less important. This is not a car that is going to be driven for long distances daily, and a market that prefers style is not concerned with how the car's reliability will hold up in the long run. As a new brand, there is limited data available about its reliability anyway, and this is not a key message in the advertising. To further appeal to this market,…
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