Car Shopping on the Champs Elysees


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Those who have been following the The Ride will know that we did a series of postings in late September on the Paris Motorshow. While there, I had the chance to take a look at some of the showcase brand stores on the Champs Elysees including Citroen, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot, Renault, and Toyota. It was fascinating because these brands have decided that the investment in some of the highest price real estate in Paris, if not the world, is worth it. So what’s happening here?

Their main purposes, of course, are to generate traffic, brand buzz, lots of excitement, perhaps sell some promo merchandise to propagate the brand name, and ultimately raise awareness so the next time the Parisian customer is in the market they will put the brand on the shopping list.

However, some of the brands did a better job than others. In looking for what “worked”, sound and lighting seemed to play a major roll. In Peugeot’s case, music was clearly audible before you even entered the store, and once inside, the lighting on the showcased vehicles made them conducive to some pretty good picture taking. Peugeot also had the most affordable swag which made for great souvenirs.

Renault used color and design to their advantage. The showroom colors worked well with the vehicles to show them off in the best light. The staff was incredibly friendly and there was a great display highlighting the new Renault Twizy, an interesting variation on electric vehicles. And they had a funky Red Bull F1 USB key which will make a great stocking stuffer.

Mercedes-Benz did an excellent job with the SLS AMG prominently displayed. They win the prize for having the most innovative promotional merchandise. For a mere 40 euros you could get four types of nail polish in exactly the same colors to match your Mercedes-Benz. There was also the official luggage of the brand with a couple looking very intent on actually buying it, at a reasonable price I’m sure.

Citroen was a little different in that it resembled a giant gum ball machine. It was fun. Cars stacked one on top of each other that were visible as you walked up the multi-stored building. There was an opportunity to join the Citroen Social Club to “Experience 24 hours of live Citroen buzz on social networks.”

Toyota was the most clinical of the five and had a great collection of some of their most historic vehicles. It was a nice walk back through time that allowed you to see what got the brand to where they are today. Unfortunately on the day I was there a power failure on the second floor plunged it into darkness. Not much they could have done about that.

It was interesting that generating brand buzz was not unique to the car stores. Right down from the Toyota location was a long line of people. It turned out it was a horde cued up for Abercrombie & Fitch.

A little up the street, a similar thing was happening, but this time it was to get into the Louis Vuitton store. Probably not coincidence these two power brands are located on the Champs Elysees and likely not by chance that Publicis, one of the largest advertising agencies in the world, is located a little further up the street within a stone’s throw of the Arc de Triomphe.

For the car stores, it seemed the ones that had the most traffic and excitement used music, lighting, new/exciting vehicles, helpful and multi-lingual staff, and excellent promotional merchandise to contribute to the experience. Is the investment of putting a store on such expensive Paris real estate worth it? It depends. Did I see any deals being done? No. Were the stores successful in generating traffic and brand buzz. Absolutely and it would be a shame to see them disappear from the landscape of the Champs Elysees.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Chris Travell
Chris Travell is VP, Strategic Consulting for the Automotive Group of Maritz Research. He is responsible for working with Maritz' Insight Teams to further the understanding and application of the firm's automotive research. He has appeared on numerous television programs and is often quoted in Automotive News, Time, USA Today, Edmunds, Detroit Free Press, The Globe and Mail and various other publications in regard to issues related to the North American automotive industry. He is the principal contributor to The Ride Blog, Maritz Research's automotive blog.


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