Mark Raine, Mercedes-Benz Cars vice-president of sales and marketing (Malaysia), has been active in the car scene lately, leading record sales for Mercedes last year with almost 12,000 units sold in 2016. There are many interesting factors that contributed to the growth of Mercedes-Benz in Malaysia and also in South East Asia.
What has made the premium brand a success as of late? What are their recipes to success and sustainability? I have the privilege to interview Mark Raine during my short visit to Kota Kinabalu last week. Mark is a very easy going lad and very approachable. Thank you for hosting the media and customers last week and arranging a great three day event in showcasing how Mercedes-Benz is not just a product but a lifestyle.
Interviewing Mark Raine at Shangrila’s Rasa Ria
Rano Iskandar: Can you share the growth of Mercedes-Benz and its growing presence in South East Asia?
Mark Raine: I believe we have a holistic approach in our brand, Mercedes-Benz and this has been a huge factor in our growth and being a brand leader in the premium category. We don’t only have the best car but also focusing on customer centric in a way of doing our business, to give a more positive customer experience before and after sales. Even the process of buying a Mercedes is taken into account such as having a competent website, digital approach and also the consultation process. All these are essential in the buying process so in the end, the customers are happy with their choices. This is already half the victory in catering to what the customers want.
The real deal starts after the sales and we at Mercedes emphasizes deeply in this area as this will determine our loyalty of our customers. It has proven a success and it is no doubt that the growth of Mercedes in the premium sector has increased despite the downturn in the economy in SEA.
The extension of the models from Mercedes-Benz has helped to elevate the growth of the brand in the premium sector. These are such as the SUV models – the GLEs, GLCs and GLAs being introduced in the market.
Rano Iskandar: Speaking of the trend, is this segment a huge trend in the region for Mercedes and how it came about?
Mark Raine: Yes, this is more of a global trend that SUVs have impacting the trend. However, there was little choices in the premium segment. We have a gut feeling and took a gamble in this segment and we believed that SUV is the thing of the future. This was also the key element of positioning of the Mercedes brand (in the SUV segment), focusing on lifestyle and affluent customers. This has helped to rejuvenate the brand while improving on innovation and technology.
Rano Iskandar: Why Kota Kinabalu as the prime destination for the #hungryforadventure ?
Mark Raine: The destination speaks for itself and we want to associate the mindset of our customers that our brand offers endurance, great positioning for different walks of life such as taking your children to school or on the weekend, bring your bike for a spin or going for a round of golf and lastly Kota Kinabalu gives a sense of adrenalin which resonates with our brand. We were fortunate that we have different weather conditions during our hill drive this morning at Sabah National Park and it showed what our SUVs are capable of.
We at Mercedes tend to organize events like this twice a year. We will invite our stakeholders along such as the media, the customers to showcase what SUVs are about and also being a premium brand, we want to be approachable to our customers by having a touch and feel on what Mercedes have to offer.
Rano Iskandar: Which model in Malaysia has been a top seller?
Mark Raine: It will be the C class and it targets all walks of life. However, it’s not the only model that has been popular but the compact cars and other models such as the E Class that was launched last year in Malaysia. Pretty soon we will be launching the new E 350E the latest hybrid brand. In terms of growth, it will be the SUVs and the GLC is the best selling in Malaysia and we sold over 3,000 units since its launch.
Mark Raine, Mercedes-Benz Cars vice-president of sales and marketing (Malaysia), posing with the latest Mercedes-Benz GLC 200 at Hap Seng Star showroom at Kota Kinabalu recently
Rano Iskandar: Why introducing the GLC 200 if you already have the GLC 250?
Mark Raine: We have the GLC 250 which is a brilliant product. It’s an SUV 4WD and offers great speed and comfort, positioning it as a very sporty, luxury model.
However to a certain extent, we are only capturing a lot of market but there are customers who want different qualities and traits and their mindsets are different from other customers. Hence the GLC 200 repositions itself in more exclusive luxury segment. It comes standard in on-road package or off-road package. The interior package also makes the value perception of this vehicle very, very high. The GLC 200 is just a notch below the GLC 250, hence makes it more affordable for most customers in the market. The unique selling point of the GLC 200 will be the exclusive luxurious appeal with high value perception and many features at a very competitive price.
Rano Iskandar: The GLC 200 is locally assembled in Malaysia. Is there any difference from the ones being imported?
Mark Raine: No difference at all. Same car, same quality, same quality checks. In essence, the same car. In South East Asia, we have a local production because we have tax exemptions and it makes the pricing more attractive.
Rano Iskandar: The GLE 43 Coupe OrangeArt Limited Edition. Share me more about it.
Mark Raine: It’s already available through order. It’s very limited and exclusive order. It’s very eccentric and flashy feel. It has a 21 inch AMG wheels with the OrangeArt Edition exterior package. We even have the Night Package. The eccentric and unique edition features extravagant design highlights including striking expressive decals in the orange on the front apron and the AMG wheels painted in high-gloss black and rim flange painted in orange.
The GLE 43 Coupe Orange Art Edition making it a high end personalised edition giving that special, individualized character and it’s definitely a striking appeal.
I had the privilege to test drive the GLC 200 and it will available in Brunei market hopefully by November 2017
Loving the feel and the drive. Of course, I love the AMG GLC 250 but this model is still good enough to keep me satisfied
A nice touch when I opened the door of the GLC 200