BY TORSTEN MÜLLER-ÖTVÖS, CEO, ROLLS-ROYCE MOTOR CARS
As a marque we have always said that “Bespoke is Rolls-Royce, and Rolls-Royce is Bespoke”. But from a luxury business perspective, what does this actually mean? Why are luxury consumers attracted to Bespoke?
To Ultra-High Net-Worth Individuals [UHNWIs] – the demographical segment that a large majority of Rolls-Royce patrons hail from – owning “the best motor car in the world” is not enough.
What truly excites our customers is the personalisation factor and extreme individualism that our Bespoke Collective, a talented group of designers, engineers and craftspeople, are able to provide.
Quite simply, Rolls-Royce customers have complete freedom to co-create the motor car of their dreams.
Bespoke is such a major USP for Rolls-Royce in fact, that it has become a cornerstone of the tremendous growth that our brand has experienced over the past decade.
As the world has become increasingly digitised and connected, and social media has become the dominant communication channel for individuals across the globe, we have seen a new breed of luxury consumer emerge.
These ultra-successful individuals – tech entrepreneurs, captains of industry, sports stars, rappers, and Hollywood celebrities – are often self-made global citizens who have built business empires and accumulated wealth via the careful nurturing of personal brands.
These uniquely conscientious and prosperous personalities are not interested in convention and conformity. They are successful precisely because they play by their own rules.
And because such individuals have fruitfully leveraged their personal brand with excellent results, it makes sense that they would be exceptionally discerning about the products they purchase and the lifestyles they lead.
Their Rolls-Royce is more than just a reflection of their personal tastes; it is a unique branded luxury capsule that contains their hopes, dreams and achievements.
It is for this reason that so many successful individuals are attracted to the extreme customer-centric approach of Rolls-Royce, an approach that I have termed, Customer Hyper-centricity.
Today, nearly all Rolls-Royce motor cars are hand-built to order by our Bespoke Collective. This is an extraordinary statistic for an automotive brand. But Rolls-Royce has never been just an automotive company: we are a Luxury House that happens to build cars.
With so much of our core business driven by Bespoke, we developed the Architecture of Luxury – the proprietary aluminium spaceframe that underpins Phantom, Cullinan and every future Rolls-Royce – as a direct response to the growth of Bespoke.
With so many Rolls-Royce customers demanding unique, one-off motor cars, we did not want to be tied to inherited architecture from our parent company, BMW.
Quite simply, Bespoke design requires Bespoke architecture, and we did not want the dreams of our Rolls-Royce customers to be limited in any way; for imagination should never be shackled. And at Rolls-Royce it never is.
If the 44,000 colours of paint that we offer don’t precisely fit a customer’s needs, they can always bring in a particular flower, or even pet dog for us to scan and colour match (such things have happened in the past). We have also crushed diamonds, gold and silver and infused it into paints.
We have matched the design of a Wraith to a customer’s Superyacht. We’ve produced Bespoke Rolls-Royce hiking sticks, fabulous luggage and Rolls-Royce picnic hampers – all matched to cars.
We’ve created Starlight Headliners that match star constellations on a specific day, crafted teak floor mats, and added Tanzanite to clocks.
These are just some of the stories. But perhaps, the greatest showpiece of Rolls-Royce’s Customer Hyper-centricity is ‘Sweptail’.
In 2013, a connoisseur and collector of distinctive one-off super-yachts and private aircraft came to us with a simple request: could we build an entirely Bespoke motor car for him? The result was a one-off coachbuilt masterpiece; nothing less than the haute couture of automobiles.
These are the sparkling headlines of how we implement Customer Hyper-centricity at Rolls-Royce. But examples of Customer Hyper-centricity can also be found at the Home of Rolls-Royce each day.
There is the time when we flew Mark Court, Rolls-Royce’s Coachline Painter out to the Middle East to hand-paint a Coachline onto a Prince’s car, because the Prince had decided to add a Coachline after all. Mark is the only man in the world who can paint a Rolls-Royce Coachline and so he got onto a plane with his squirrel-hair paint-brushes.
On another occasion, we built a Rolls-Royce service centre at a customer’s home so they could annually service their multiple cars onsite.
Where does this all lead? Well, a few months back, a customer flew into Goodwood and brought with him an enormous Phantom cake – large enough to feed 500 of our staff.
Why? Because our team, upon learning of the customer’s impending birthday, had moved heaven and earth to ensure that his new Phantom could be delivered just in time for his special day.
The moral of the story? Laser focusing on Customer Hyper-centricity will give you chocolate cake!