Reinventing and Reimagining Excellence

Interview with Robert Ader, Porsche AG

Robert Ader, Chief Marketing Officer, Porsche AG

What are the big success stories for your brand over the last 12 months that have driven your brand strength and growth?

The last 12 months really have been unprecedented and a big challenge for everyone. From where we stand, I’d like to point out three achievements: to start, the first electric sportscar with Porsche soul, the Taycan, has fully and successfully arrived in the market. The pandemic had stopped the momentum of our launch, but with increased efforts in 2021 customer demand is high and the halo effect for us a brand is tremendous.

Secondly, we have positioned ourselves as a brand which is striving in collaborations. From our strategic partnership with TAG Heuer to collaborations with endemic brands like the fashion and lifestyle label Aimé Leon Dore, we can unlock new fans for the brand.

Finally, and this might not be so obvious, the last 12 months have been characterized by a real effort to stay close to our customers. Porsche is a brand that is built on personal experiences and once COVID had cut into the possibilities, we really had to reinvent on a lot of levels to maintain that closeness. The current performance of Porsche shows that we have mastered this task with success.  

In a world of inequality, every brand needs to answer what their contribution to the future of our world is. Through our purpose “Driven by Dreams” we really have put the idea of enabling dreams for everyone in the center of our thinking.”

Thinking about the customer: we have a hypothesis that consumers once made purchases to signify their economic capital, then later to signify their intellectual capital, and most recently to signal their “ethical capital”. Does this hypothesis resonate with you and how do you address it from a brand standpoint?

Absolutely. In a world of inequality, every brand needs to answer what their contribution to the future of our world is. Through our purpose “Driven by Dreams” we really have put the idea of enabling dreams for everyone in the center of our thinking. We have now started a wide array of initiatives – e.g., our brand campaign “Dreamers. On” – that will showcase this approach to the consumer. This ethical responsibility also encompasses a sustainable business model. This goes far beyond the Taycan. As a company, we have set ourselves the ambitious goal to be CO2 neutral by 2030 – the first European manufacturer to do so.

Increasingly we see that traditional industry or category conventions are less helpful to understand a brands’ commercial landscape. And that understanding and planning around consumer motivations or desires gives a better sense of the true competition. Are traditional category or industry definitions as useful as they once were?

We firmly believe that we look at a much more complex landscape. This goes far beyond the question of propulsion technology. With the next generation of buyers, we definitely see a trend for more flexible ownership solutions. Through the premium mobility services of “Porsche Drive” we have responded to this development and offer a seamless, digital possibility to flexibly drive a range of our products. And for Generation Z, I think we need to look even beyond usage. The competition starts much earlier – the fight for attention on Social Media, the fight for relevance within their love brands across all categories. This transcends a pure product perspective and is a question of attitude and values.

The competition starts much earlier – the fight for attention on Social Media, the fight for relevance within their love brands across all categories. This transcends a pure product perspective and is a question of attitude and values.”

Post-COVID, post Social Justice – the world is settling back to a new normal. How have these events affected your brand strategy? 

I would point our two very clear developments: first, we clearly sense that the expectations of our customers for brands to contribute to societal problems is on the rise. Porsche has contributed on various levels to overcome COVID-related challenges. For example, we supported our home and key production states of Baden-Württemberg and Saxony in the organization of crisis task forces, providing project managers and IT experts. In addition, we extensively increased our charity donations all over the world and we provided donations to numerous hospitals and charitable organizations. For us, this community support is an intrinsic value of our brand and I think our customers rightly expect this from us.

Secondly, I think we all have a much more profound appreciation of real-world experiences and personal contact. As soon as we can steer out of this crisis, I am convinced that there will be a huge lever for a brand like Porsche to create unforgettable experiences and really bring people together. I look forward to what we can create in this field in the next years.

What are the major disrupters and accelerators of competition and brand growth on your horizon?

Among the numerous factors, I would like to point out one in particular: sustainability. I think we are now at a tipping point. Any brand that does not put sustainable thinking in the center of their business model and create tangible solutions in this field will face huge problems in the market. For an aspirational brand like Porsche, this naturally creates a special challenge. I have spoken about out ambitious plans until 2030 before. From a brand management perspective, I think the task will now be to emphasize that sustainable thinking and fun are not mutually exclusive. Quite in contrast – if you think of sustainability as an enabler and a door-opener, we will find new and even more exciting ways of delivering a Porsche experience. The Taycan was the first step – there’s much more to come. It is only because Porsche has constantly changed that it has remained Porsche.