THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE Arnaud Ribault, Executive Director, Global Sales & Marketing, DS Automobiles
As the luxury division of PSA Group, DS Automobiles - a company launched in 2015 - is a 21st century brand. So we wanted to develop a system of communication, distribution and sales of the 21st century. Our customers are all connected, and this is their way of life. If we want to be with them we have to be in their environment, and so we have an ongoing digital conversation with our customers, primarily on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
In fact, when we launched the DS brand a year ago from Geneva, we did our press conference live on Facebook; 12,000 people connected. So far, we have reached 37 million people, and 42% of them have watched our videos online. About 800,000 people follow the brand on all of these tools, but social media is just the beginning of our hyperconnected business strategy.
As a digital business, it’s important for us to know what interests the customers who follow us. Thanks to the environment of big data, we have a lot of information about their behavior, and so we know that a large part of our audience is interested in fashion. Knowing this, we launched a campaign for our DS3 model with an incredible ambassador from the world of fashion: Iris Apfel. She’s 94 years old, and still she is influencing the world of fashion.
The choice of Iris Apfel as our ambassador created thousands of discussions on social media. People who know her loved it. When people who didn’t know her wondered why we would have a 94-year-old woman represent our brand, we didn’t even have to answer the question. Our fans answered for us, and soon the entire community was excited.
The power of digital business goes far beyond marketing, however. We are connected not only to our customers, but to their cars as well. When one of our customers is driving, if something occurs, the car communicates that information directly to the workshop and to the dealer. If it’s a small issue, maybe it can be dealt with during the next regular service. If it is a larger issue, the dealer can call the customer directly to come to the workshop and prevent a breakdown.
To establish this 24-hour-per-day relationship with the car, we had to ask our customers to agree. In France, for example, more than 70% of them said ‘yes’ in response to the very first email we sent. They appreciate this support, and of course it makes our relationship closer because it makes the experience of our brand superior to anything that has been possible previously.
We aren’t stopping there, however. At the 2016 Geneva Auto Show, we presented for the first time our DS Virtual Vision, a complete virtual-reality immersion inside a digital DS3 automobile. With 3D glasses from HTC and quality 3D images created with our Dassault Systèmes software, we transported customers from the floor of the Geneva Auto Show to Place de la Concorde in Paris, where they could have the experience of a 360-degree view all around them – inside the car, outside the car – and then of personalizing the car to their tastes and seeing the car driven in front of them. You can make 3 million personalizations, and that doesn’t even include the different engines we offer, so this is very helpful to our customers to get just the car they want.
Now that we have done this first experience, we want to develop it. There is no limit with the system we have chosen. We want to give our customers this same experience on their computers at home, on their tablets, and in our dealerships as well. We call this the “phigital” approach, the melding of the physical and the digital.
In a few months, ordering a car at home or at the dealer will be the same experience. You can start the order in one place and end in another. The same environment will follow you wherever you are. In the Netherlands, part of this is already available. You can order your car and get approval of your financing online, and you only go into the dealership to sign the papers. This is the future of our brand’s ideas, and yet we have only begun to explore the possibilities of digital business. ◆Back to top