April 18, 2012
While many luxury automakers are using digital channels to reach the aspirational consumer, Rolls-Royce is choosing to make gradual technological innovations that will not stray from its heritage, according to a new communications executive tasked with building the brand in the United States.
Kristina Marchitto, Rolls-Royce’s newly-appointed executive for U.S. corporate communications, hopes to continue the automaker’s current tradition of marketing to its family of owners while reaching out with a stronger hand to deep-pocketed female consumers. Ms. Marchitto joins Rolls-Royce with more than six years of high-level experience at a New York-based luxury lifestyle public relations agency at a time when 80 percent of the automaker's Ghost model buyers have not previously owned a Rolls-Royce.
“With the Rolls-Royce brand, it is very much about personal relationships with each and every owner,” Ms. Marchitto said from her Woodcliff Lake, NJ-base. “We really have established a family and this is our communication channel for our owners and prospective owners.
“This is another reason why we’re so unique and what sets us apart," she said. "The Rolls-Royce brand is rich in its history, so it will always stay true to its roots as these are iconic, classic cars.
"I think that instead of seeing dramatic changes as you have seen with some of other luxury automakers, Rolls-Royce is going to have a technological evolution over time."
In this interview, Ms. Marchitto discusses her new position leading the automaker’s communication team, which consumers Rolls-Royce will focus on going forward and why customization is key when marketing to luxury consumers. Please read on.
What do you hope to bring to Rolls-Royce as U.S. head of corporate communications?
I joined the company very recently and I have seen and heard a lot of enthusiasm of what is to come and what is in the planning stages.
I would really like to bolster our digital presence. Our consumers will soon see more of us in that landscape, which could bring about younger buyers as well as more women.
Rolls-Royce is increasing its female buyers. I think our Ghost range has been highly desirable to a younger buyer and a lot of these consumers are female.
There are many entrepreneurs out there who have established themselves and who are becoming our customers more and more. These consumers can relate to the brand through our technology and applications.
For example, on the Rolls-Royce Ghost app for the iPad, a consumer can see the model in a color of his or her choice or import a color.
For a woman, this might be from photographing a lipstick or a piece of clothing. The app can duplicate that color on a car.
Rolls-Royce vehicles also have a connect feature that has multiple functions such as a Google search, Internet radio and RSS news feeds, and this is another recent feature that is very exciting to consumers.
Is it important to use technology to reach younger generations made up of aspirational consumers?
The Rolls-Royce brand is rich in its history, so it will always stay true to its roots as these are iconic, classic cars.
I think that instead of seeing dramatic changes as you have seen with some of other luxury automakers, Rolls-Royce is going to have an evolution over time.
There are aspects that the brand will update like we did with the Phantom Series II, which we just launched at the New York Auto Show last week, or innovate such as the updates the brand did with the Ghost model.
The brand is careful to keep true to those attributes that make Rolls-Royce an iconic vehicle. Consumers will not see dramatic changes in the use of technology, but rather, an evolution over time.
Phantom Series II launch video
What will be the direction of future Rolls-Royce marketing campaigns?
Rolls-Royce is a 107-year-old brand, which over the years has become synonymous with the word luxury.
The brand has always built cars to the specifications of its previous owners.
Rolls-Royce has seen a significant increase especially over the past year of its bespoke program. I expect that to continue.
Nearly all of the Rolls-Royce vehicles sold worldwide in the past year included some element of customization.
Rolls-Royce occupies its own category in the automotive industry. The brand does outreach a bit differently to have personal relationships with all of its owners.
The brand listens closely to consumer feedback and works to incorporate that feedback into future models.
Consumers have been asked about what upgrades the automaker should make to the Phantom Series II and the overwhelming response was that it should not change much.
It is really about that communication channel with consumers. That is really the brand’s maintenance.
It is about all of those personal relationships and creating a money-cannot-buy experience.
Spirit of Ecstasy
Why is the Rolls-Royce brand a good match for your career?
Anyone who has ever sat in a Rolls-Royce vehicle fully understands the meaning of the word luxury and, for me, luxury has always been part of the fibers of my being.
I tend to be drawn towards really well-crafted, highly-desirable products.
Rolls-Royce is a product and a brand with which I am very excited to be associated.
I have worked on some other luxury brands in the past and I have been involved in the media world having lived in New York for many years and launching my career there.
I started from a very prominent advertising agency and went to working for a major news organization as well as entertainment news. I have been on all sides of media.
This is a very rare and exciting opportunity and I am really excited to be here.
Customized two-toned Rolls-Royce Ghost
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Tricia Carr, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York