The modern supercar is a marvel of technology and engineering, combining space age materials with the latest design and manufacturing techniques to deliver a driving experience like no other. The drive for progress never stops either, with manufacturers constantly looking for new ways to push the envelope.
That includes McLaren, a company known for its visceral driving machines and a loyal and growing fan base. Launched in 2010 and now the largest part of the McLaren Group, McLaren Automotive has recently seen demand for its sportscars and supercars rev up. The Woking, U.K.-based company now produces around 5,000 vehicles per year, and in May announced it had built its 20,000th car since its inception.
McLaren is now eyeing expansion into new markets and is planning to boost production even further to meet rising demand. Last year, it launched its Track25business plan, which includes a £1.2 billion (US$1.34 billion) investment in research and development that will see the company launch 18 new models or derivatives by 2025, and an expansion of its retail footprint to 100 locations. All of the company’s sportscars and supercars will also be hybrid by 2024, and production of its hand-assembled products will be limited to 6,000 vehicles per year by 2025 to maintain the brand’s exclusivity.
The business also requires a customer experience (CX) to match. In the words of global customer experience manager David Mattingly: “People view McLaren as a pioneering technology company. We need a customer offering that conveys that feeling and brings the innovation in our cars to life.”
‘Every Second Counts’
McLaren understands that its customers’ need for speed is not limited to the road. Time is of the essence for all consumers today, no matter how much they’re spending.
“Every second counts,” Mattingly told CMO.com. “This is the guiding principle we use to validate every aspect of our customer experience, from page load times to friction in the buying journey.”
He is also adamant about not benchmarking McLaren against other supercar manufacturers.
“Our brand is all about fearless engineering, and it would be too narrow-minded to look at only the automotive set as our competition,” he said. “It’s not them setting the standard for digital customer services today. If we want to set ourselves apart, we need to look at the world of luxury digital experience as a whole.”
Bringing The Thrill Of Driving To Life On And Offline
McLaren Automotive is now in the first phase of its CX transformation, focussing on better alignment between its online and offline offering. Its first major challenge is to bring the supercar experience to life in a convincing way on digital channels.
With beautiful products and content at its disposal, McLaren has the ability to captivate its audience before they ever get behind the wheel. Late last year, the manufacturer reimagined the in-store buying experience with its McLaren Automotive Real-Time Configurator (MARC). The 3D platform allows customers to configure every aspect of their vehicles in-store, from the engine and paint job to the minutest interior details, so they can create their personalised dream cars and see them come to life before their eyes.
“Watching someone use MARC is like watching Tom Cruise in ‘Minority Report,’ but in higher resolution,” Mattingly said. “The screens are now up and running in the majority of our retail locations, but that’s only the beginning. We’re now working to match the excitement of MARC online, and make the transition between online and offline experiences seamless for our customers.”
Getting The Customer Journey On Track
By building a strong base for its digital customer experience today, McLaren is positioning itself to deliver a more consistent user journey across all of its platforms. The company currently relies on a number of disparate systems to provision its front-end services, but this approach is unfit for the next phase of McLaren’s ambitious plans.
The challenges that go with entering new markets only add to the need for consolidation. Localising content is about more than just translating copy today. McLaren’s aim is to speak with customers on a one-to-one basis, in the right language, and in a way that feels locally relevant.
“It’s about putting right the foundations in place,” Mattingly added. “We want our customers everywhere to enjoy the same seamless experience, we want to ensure proper governance of our data, and we want to enable growth through localised content. All of this requires us to unify our operation and transform from the ground up.”
Assembling A CX Pit Crew
McLaren faces a unique challenge when it comes to targeting customers. Despite a rise in production, the group of people who are in the market for high-performance vehicles is still relatively small. These customers are also extremely passionate and want to be closely involved at every stage of the purchasing journey.
“Once you’re in the supercar world, customer segments can vary drastically and buyers’ needs can become quite unique. This makes it all the more important that our messages are targeted and appropriate for each of our product categories,” Mattingly said.
To refine its targeting and customer engagement strategies, McLaren has pulled together a specialised CX team, merging its CRM and digital practices into a single department. The team of seven looks after the McLaren’s 140 websites, configurators, and seven apps, in addition to overseeing its online and digital strategies, connected retailer strategies, and data engagement across all channels.
The team may seem small, but this has its benefits, according to Mattingly. “Having a lean team allows us to adapt more quickly than most businesses,” he said. “It also means we’re all aligned and can make rapid, informed decisions about how to provide our customers with the best possible experiences.”
Digital Storytelling, Fuelled By Data
As McLaren continues to develop its digital services, its focus will be on storytelling that goes beyond its physical products. Across the automotive industry, brand-building, and experiences have become the key to building an emotional connection with customers.
“We’re not marketing to sell a product anymore. We’re marketing to demonstrate an experience that goes far beyond the traditional point of purchase,” Accenture digital managing director Gabriel Seiberth told Campaign last year.
Experiences have always been a differentiator for McLaren in the physical world. The company hosts a number of driving and lifestyle events for customers and enthusiasts as part of its aptly named McLaren Pure Experiences programme. For Mattingly and his team, the challenge now is to create a digital world that is just as effective in bringing the McLaren story to life.
“We’re great at storytelling, but it’s rare that we combine both pieces for our customers,” he said. “We need to lasso everything up and package it in a way that ensures everyone gets an amazing experience, whether they want to buy a car, see which events are coming to their town, or just soak up the beauty and power of our vehicles. The foundation we are building today will put us on track to make this happen.”