Rolls-Royce is one of the most famous and distinguished brands in the world. The Post’s Cheng Sokhorng spoke to Thomas Buehler, general manager of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Phnom Penh, about the luxury car brand’s presence and marketing in Cambodia.
What distinguishes Rolls-Royce from other luxury car brands in Cambodia?
Rolls-Royce has been, for over 100 years, the pinnacle of super luxury. The brand has always been about exclusivity and not volume. In 2016, the Rolls-Royce manufacturing facility in southern England delivered just over 4,011 cars to customers globally. Only a small number were allocated to Cambodia, so the owners are part of a small, exclusive group.
It is said that “Rolls-Royce is bespoke and bespoke is Rolls-Royce”. The only limit is the customer’s imagination. At this level, there is no such thing as a “standard Rolls-Royce”. Customers can specify from 44,000 colours and work with the Rolls-Royce dealer on personalisation details – be it a family crest, personal signature, gemstones or special materials and colour combinations.
Given the small size of the Cambodian market and the even smaller slice that could afford a Rolls-Royce, why did the company decide to open a showroom here?
Rolls-Royce had been delivering cars to Cambodia for many years prior to the dealership opening. There was a mutual decision by the dealer partners, HGB Group and Rolls-Royce, to establish a point of sale and aftersales service facility in the market to better serve current and prospective customers.
The dealership appointment came at a time when the economy had experienced a rejuvenation with new government policies and interest by several luxury brands to establish a presence in Cambodia.
From a marketing perspective, our customers choose us as the ultimate expression of super luxury and individuality. They are small group of highly successful individuals that help drive the economy and provide goods, services and employment, so are supporting a growing niche market for super-luxury goods.
What challenges come with marketing one the most expensive cars in the world in one of the poorest countries in the world?
Rolls-Royce is a known brand the world over. The government has done an outstanding job in raising infrastructure standards to levels seen in more mature and developed Western countries.
Our customers are knowledgeable and well-travelled. The issue is more that Rolls-Royce is the yardstick of being the very best, and so with that also comes a unique challenge of finding the right mix of marketing initiatives and events that create truly curated and bespoke experiences for our customers.
Which models are available here, and do you have plans to add new products?
The full Rolls-Royce range is available to order: New Phantom, Ghost, Wraith, Dawn. We expect first deliveries of New Phantom to occur in 2018 with Cullinan, the new high-sided Rolls-Royce in 2019. We also have a range of Rolls-Royce Provenance pre-owned cars, and accessories for all models are available for order.
Who are your customers and do they typically buy vehicles off the showroom floor or custom order them?
Our customers are successful businessmen and entrepreneurs, they want to reward themselves for their success, or reward others they appreciate in their lives with a product like a super-luxury car. It takes from three to nine months to deliver a car, depending on the model and level of bespoke specification ordered by the customer.
Not a lot of mechanics here have seen under the hood of a Rolls Royce. What after-sales care and warranties do you provide on your vehicles?
We have a regional warranty programme and provide a four-year warranty on every Rolls-Royce sold. Our workshop has a full suite of computer diagnostic equipment and access to genuine Rolls-Royce spare parts and support from the Asia Pacific Regional office.
We are developing a programme to recruit more technicians. In the unlikely event of an extreme situation, Rolls-Royce has a system of “flying doctors” who can fly to Cambodia from Singapore or, if necessary, from the UK, to resolve an extreme customer car issue.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.