The New Mercedes CLA Tests the Idea of Luxury

With its all-new 2014 CLA coming out this month, Mercedes-Benz is chasing a new type of customer: the one with less money. At just under $30,000, the CLA will be the cheapest Mercedes, and a bold attempt by the company to grab a piece of the growing subcompact market. General manager of product management M. Bart Herring explains the appeal:

Will this dilute Mercedes's reputation as a luxury brand?
"Not at all—having a unique design in this price point gives us a strong foothold. If you imagine the high end of nonluxury cars, it's not far off from where the CLA is. We feel like there's a great opportunity for a customer to be able to move on up to a luxury car."

How are you planning to reach this new consumer?
"You hit the social media very hard with a car like this because that's where these customers are hanging out. We did a YouTube video series with [filmmaker] Casey Neistat, and we're also doing an Instagram production, which is really cool."

Besides the price, why would someone want this car?
"Style is the first thing. But at the same time, a car at this price point also has to meet the rationality test: fuel economy, utility, fit, and finish.
A Mercedes is always going to be an emotional purchase—if you look at the car, you won't find any corners being cut."


Same Brand, Different Audiences:
The Mercedes CLA shares some DNA with the CLS, which starts at around $72,000. But their commercials have far less in common.

CLA

Tagline
"Kate Upton washes the new Mercedes CLA . . . in slow motion."

Target
Men with Sports Illustrated swimsuit-issue covers on their walls.

CLS

Tagline
"To escape from daily routine, you play golf. But what does a golf pro do?"

Target
Men who know that the guy in the ad is professional golfer Adam Scott.

[Illustration by Ciara Phelan]

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