What is it about Australia’s love for cutting down the tall poppies? Successful people made to feel bad for having success or criticised for spending the fruits of their labour. This is a real issue when you’re trying to sell vehicles with six and seven digit price tags. Rolls Royce reckon Australia might just be slowing down on our tall poppy cutting and are seeing a rise in the sale of their vehicles in Australia so CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös is in Australia to wine and dine dealers and potential buyers.
34 Rolls Royce cars have been sold in Australia this year so far, this may not seem like a lot, but that is strong sales growth year on year. At their Sydney showroom this week EFTM sat down with Rolls Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös and his Director of Global Communications Richard Carter to discuss the brand, the buyers and the luxury that is a Rolls Royce car.
Interestingly, Richard Carter made the point that Australia has long suffered from the “intriguing” Tall Poppy Syndrome, something he had seen before in Germany also where the “wear your fur on the inside” mentality meant that splashing out on a vehicle the price of a Rolls would not be viewed well.
However, times – they are a changing, and if Aussie sales are anything to go by we’re becoming a little more accepting of the super-rich and their fancy cars.
Perhaps also the beautiful new Wraith – a swooped back coupe from Rolls Royce was adding to the appeal, but when I asked Richard what impact the “average Joe’s” perceptions of a car like this were – he was very clear.
“The power of all people’s perception is vital”, “when you have the two extremes of driving past someone who might point a rude finger at you, or someone who might wave or take a photo, you’re going to want more of the waves and photos than anything else”
So if we as a society see the Rolls Royce not as an extreme, but as a desirable item – the kind of thing we’ll take a photo of and share on Instagram that’s going to support the über rich in their decision to purchase.
Mr Carter didn’t mince his words about Rolls Royce buyers; “Rolls Royce owners are unique humans, with one shared feature – they are rich”.
CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös re-iterated the fact that Rolls buyers were not the kind to send back surveys or attend focus groups, so travelling the world to meet owners was a vital way of obtaining customer research.
There’s something about a car with a $600,000 drive away price tag. You might think that’s a waste of time to mention in advertising, however it helps to challenge the perception that a Rolls Royce is a “million dollar car”, which it is not. However, once you travel to the Goodwood factory and work on your bespoke design and inclusions you could well be paying that amount.
Consider Hong Kong businessman Stephen Hung, this über rich fella is building the Louis XIII luxury casino in Macau – the top floor room is rumoured to carry a one million dollar a night price tag. He’s ordered not one, but thirty Rolls Royce’s for the Louis XIII business, to chauffeur around the wealthy “whales” gambling in his casino.
His order is not only the biggest ever made, making his the biggest fleet of Rolls on the planet, but it will also include two of the most expensive Rolls Royce cars ever made.
These guys describe Rolls Royce as a “Super Luxury Brand” – you get the feeling that all the plus and fancy fit-outs in your Mercedes or BMW are to the team at Rolls like a base model Hyundai is to the team at BMW.
And there’s no plans to change the business model. The factory sits on the Goodwood estate, within a National Park. It simply cannot be expanded. Of course they could build cars somewhere else – however it was made very clear to me “we have absolutely no intention of doing that”
Exclusivity is the key, and it’s here to stay with Rolls Royce, and while you and I may never even hope to have that kind of money, just know that when you drool over one on the streets, it’s bringing as much pleasure to the owner as it is to you – so snap a photo, whack it on Instagram.