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Luxury carmakers are driving into smaller Indian towns to woo the emerging elite

From contemporary art to high street fashion and from exotic culinary experiences to golf tournaments — BMW has experimented with each of these themes at events for its clientele in the metros since its entry in the country in 2007. However, to make up for the stagnant sales in urban India, in the past couple of years, the German carmaker is making inroads into smaller cities. That explains its recent customer engagement activity at the Nizam’s Palace in Lucknow and the Lake Palace in Udaipur, where existing and prospective customers relished a scrumptious meal prepared by Michelin-starred chefs. 

“It was a unique experience that we created for our customers. And the attendance in these smaller cities was phenomenal,” says Vikram Pahwa, president, BMW Group India, who further adds that skipping the tier-II and tier-III cities isn’t an option anymore. The premium automaker has competition close on its heels. Mercedes-Benz, which enjoys the title of being the top luxury carmaker due to its market share, kickstarted a Brand Tour in October, 2017 from Jalgaon in Maharashtra and covered 12 cities including Agra, Salem, Kottayam, Shillong, Rajahmundry, Jodhpur and Kolhapur by December. 

Roland Folger, CEO, Mercedes-Benz India says, “The Brand Tour is crafted to extend our growing footprint to the untapped tier-II and tier-III emerging markets that do not have easy access to a Mercedes-Benz showroom.” It became the first of the three German luxury carmakers to set up base in India back in 1994. Audi, owned by Volkswagen and BMW followed much later in 2007.  A 30% drop in sales in 2016 meant BMW overtook Audi to become the second largest car manufacturer in the country selling 7,861 vehicles.  Jaguar Land Rover came in at a distant fourth position selling 2,400 cars in 2016.

Rajeev Singh, senio

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