Mercedes-Benz on Sunday was named ‘Oman’s Most Trusted Brand’ in the automotive (luxury) category for the fourth straight year at the Oman’s Most Trusted Brand Awards ceremony held at Crowne Plaza, Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre. In an interview with Muscat Daily, Lawrence Good, CEO of Mercedes-Benz Oman, spoke about Mercedes-Benz brand’s strengths in the Omani market and discussed the overall outlook for luxury cars segment in 2020 and beyond.
For the past few years, Mercedes-Benz has been consistently voted as Oman’s Most Trusted Brand in luxury car segment. In your opinion, what are the major contributing factors for this continuous success in Oman?
It’s a great honour to know that the public have so much faith in Mercedes-Benz Oman. We have a long history in the sultanate and that has given us the opportunity to build solid relationships with our customers and cultivate many relationships that span over generations. These relationships were established by providing reliable and high-quality products year after year.
Across Oman, and the world, our brand reputation is built on a foundation of exceptional quality control. We understand that customers have plenty of choices, so we do not take it lightly when they choose Mercedes-Benz and we work hard to ensure their choice is worth it. Whether a customer is buying their very first car or coming in to have their certified pre-owned car serviced, Mercedes-Benz apply the same level of care and quality that our ‘best or nothing’ philosophy promises – every time.
How has been the year 2019 for you in Oman and what is the roadmap for Mercedes-Benz Oman in 2020?
This year has been nothing short of remarkable for Mercedes-Benz as we continue to mark milestones on our journey in Oman. The highlight is, of course, our newly digitised flagship showroom in Muscat through which we are strengthening our relationship with our customers and elevating the way we do business. Simply put, we are fully transforming our operations to better adapt to modern lifestyles.
We have combined our showroom and service reception, as well as modernised the showroom’s appearance, creating a more comfortable, ‘at-home’ feeling that centresaround the customer’s needs. That’s not all, the new exterior and interior areas of our retail operations were designed in a dynamic and fluid manner that mimic the constantly-changing, ever-mobile lives that we lead. Customers walking into our showroom today can truly enjoy our fantastic line up of cars, including our recently launched A-Class, the versatile GLC SUV, the athletic GLC Coupé, the super cool CLA and the trailblasing GLE to name but a few.
The year 2019 also saw Mercedes-Benz Oman enhance our certified pre-owned cars segment with a new website. A simple, convenient and flexible platform for information, it also showcases fantastic offers on the most in-demand vehicles in one easy-to-navigate area.
Building on these successes, we are looking forward to 2020. While our industry, like all others in the region, is recovering from a downturn, the market is shifting in our favour and year ahead will see us continuing on our transformative journey, focusing on digital innovation and customer-centricity. Our new showroom is going to be bringing a new level of customer experience to Oman, and its transformation can be looked to as an example for what else is to come at Mercedes-Benz Oman.
How do you see the long-term trend for luxury car segment in Oman market?
Oman, and the wider GCC region, has long been a loyal customer to the luxury car market and I don’t see that changing. The Omani customer’s love for luxury stems from their appreciation for quality manufacturing, technology and innovation. Meeting demand, the Mercedes-Benz cars offer the most advanced safety options and best technology on the market, not to mention the lavish interiors and the extensive possibilities for customisation. The global luxury car demand has been increasing year-on-year since 2010, and is anticipated to continue rising, and as Oman’s economy picks up we expect to experience some of that upturn as well.
How would you explain the love affair between Omanis and Mercedes-Benz?
Oman is one of the most warm and welcoming nations in the world and the culture has a particularly strong connection with people and familial relationships. So, I think our history here, and that Mercedes-Benz family that I spoke of earlier, is at the core of the Omani-Mercedes-Benz love affair. It really is about more than the car.
Omani customers are discerning individuals and they don’t only want a trusted brand, but the performance and high level of service that goes with it. Of course, the strength of the Mercedes-Benz brand helps solidify this love affair, and our globally recognised status is important to our customer base here in Oman.
Our commitment to the Omani people has never wavered, and has always been to offer them ‘the best or nothing’. It gives us great pleasure when we see second and third generation of our Omani customers joining the Mercedes-Benz family. Our younger customers are often coming because their parents and grandparents chose Mercedes-Benz cars in the 1970s and 1980s, and have stayed with us since. Whether they have bought a car from us 30 years ago or three weeks ago, our customers enjoy the same level of service and after-sales care.
For the Omani market, which are your best-selling models and why?
The term ‘best-selling’ can be a little misleading as many people assume it only has to do with the number of cars sold. But, it’s really about how successful a model is in meeting objectives, eg. Customer satisfaction, safety measures, technological features, etc. At Mercedes-Benz, we design and produce different cars to meet different purposes across different segments, and we like to say that we have a car to suit every individual.
So, it depends which market you’re talking about. The A-Class is particularly successful with younger, entry-level buyers due to its affordability, compact size, modern design, and high performance. Then we have the likes of the Mercedes-AMG, which makes the everyday exceptional and is an absolute best-seller among adrenaline junkies. The SUVs, like the GLS, GLE and GLC are hardy and spacious, and loved by families of all sizes.
Probably the most reliable and ‘best-selling’, in the obvious sense, is the sedan market.
The S-Class is by and large the most coveted of them all, and the executive E-Class is another steady favourite among those looking for a smart and sophisticated car. I think the real showstopper, however, and the one that makes a real statement on the roads, has to be the bold G-Class wagon.
What are the biggest challenges for the luxury car segment this year and moving forward?
This year, and over the last few years really, the country’s economic situation presented some challenges for Mercedes-Benz. We have been careful to not over-predict the pace of growth and we have been patient and understanding about changing markets. However, things have showed a lot of improvement of late and this has reflected positively on the luxury car industry. While the market has become fiercely competitive, we are happy to say that Mercedes-Benz Oman remains one of the largest automotive dealers and market leaders in Oman’s executive and luxury car segment.
Overall, things are looking bright for the sector as we move forward. The investments we have made this year will set us into good stead and we are well positioned to meet the changing demands of the automotive market.
I think it’s important to note that at Mercedes-Benz Oman, we don’t stop at success. We continue to evolve, building on our brand, strengthening our relationships, investing heavily in new innovations, both externally and internally, and developing our operational capacity, to really give our customers the exceptional service they deserve. This, in itself, is no easy task, but we are here for the challenge!