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Intelligence Briefings: Managing Automotive Customers

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Case study: how customer clubs in Germany build relationship marketing

In Germany, customer clubs are a key way to build in-depth relationships with customers. This panel looks briefly at two of them.

The Porsche card
The Porsche card is a MasterCard and can be combined with the Lufthansa AirPlus Visa card. This package is available only to Porsche owners for an annual fee of £60. Porsche decided to partner with Lufthansa to offer this card two-pack because both cards aim at the same target groups.

The two cards make an explosive and valuable benefit package. The Porsche card, which currently has 5,400 members in Germany, offers about two dozen benefits, the favourite of which are:

  • Avis Park&Wash -- a Porsche left at the airport’s Avis station is parked free and washed inside and out before the driver returns.
  • Porsche Business service, hotel and rental car reservations, trade show information.
  • Porsche Traveller service, information on hotels, restaurants, flights including reservation service, general cultural and medical advice for foreign trips.
  • Porsche Present service, lets members select presents from the Porsche Selection, order special gourmet products and send flowers anywhere in the world.
  • Porsche Ticket service, organizes tickets for nearly all sport and cultural events in the world.
  • Porsche Emergency Translator service, provides assistance in German in case of emergency.
  • Porsche Mobility service, ensures mobility in case of an accident, breakdown or theft.

The Lufthansa AirPlus Card adds benefits such as access to airport lounges and stand-by priority. The Porsche card benefit package does not include a single discount on any Porsche-related product. Still, its loyalty effect is high because it offers high perceived value in the form of practical and prestigious benefits targeted specifically at Porsche drivers.

They want services that support their mobility, enhance the exclusive image of being a Porsche owner and assist their international travelling. There are plans to differentiate the Porsche Card and offer a premier level as well as special interest card for Boxster or Porsche 911 drivers.

The Mercedes card
The Mercedes card comes in two versions. The regular Mercedes card without credit function (60,000 members in Germany) is available without fee for anybody 18 or older. The Mercedes MasterCard (90,000 members in Germany) is available for an annual fee of £30 for Mercedes drivers only.

Mercedes Card owners get a free Mercedes Benz picture calendar every year, six issues of the card journal, an annual invitation to a special movie premier, invitations to special Mercedes events, a variety of offers (vacations, old-timer tours, sports weekends, shopping weekends) exclusively for Card holders, and several other services.

The MasterCard adds the advantages of a credit card as well as a long list of travel assistance services and insurances, such as limited liability insurance when abroad, international health insurance for travel, and car breakdown and repair services.

There is a two-pronged strategy behind these cards. The Mercedes card introduced young and potential future Mercedes owners to the Mercedes world. This builds long-term loyalty for future purchases.

The MasterCard version aims to create a more short-term loyalty effect. It aims to influence servicing decisions and near-purchase decisions, such as replacement of the current or second car. The latter becomes even more important now that Mercedes is expanding its product range to smaller cars such as the A Class and the Smart Car.

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