250K drawn to Porsche’s driv­ing cen­ters

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - BUSINESS - By Anasta­ciah Ondieki Anasta­ciah.Ondieki@ajc.com

Porsche’s two Ex­pe­ri­ence Cen­ters in At­lanta and Los Angeles have at­tracted a com­bined 250,000 visi­tors since the cen­ters were es­tab­lished less than three years ago.

The cen­ters al­low visi­tors hands-on ex­pe­ri­ences with the brand’s mod­els, al­low­ing them to drive the famed sports cars and SUVs on the spe­cially-de­signed tracks with the guid­ance of pro­fes­sional drivers.

“Get­ting peo­ple be­hind the wheel in a place where they can re­ally test the per­for­mance is the best way to con­nect them with the Porsche brand,” said Klaus Zellmer, pres­i­dent and CEO of Porsche Cars North Amer­ica, Inc., which is based here in At­lanta.

The At­lanta Cen­ter of­fers 90-minute driver ex­pe­ri­ences, both on and off a 1.6-mile track de­vel­oped by master drivers. The cen­ter also boasts an up­scale restau­rant that over­looks the ac­tion on the track and a re­tail shop.

The cen­ter in At­lanta has at­tracted 150,000 visi­tors since open­ing in 2015. Ac­cord­ing to the com­pany, 68 per­cent of those vis-

it­ing said they do not own a Porsche, but more than a quar­ter said they would likely buy one af­ter the ex­pe­ri­ence.

Gary Selden, pro­fes­sor of mar­ket­ing and sales at Ken­ne­saw State Univer­sity’s Coles Col­lege of Busi­ness, says for sales of lux­ury items like Porsche, the buyer has to con­nect emo­tion­ally to a prod­uct be­fore de­cid­ing to pur­chase it.

“Peo­ple have to ex­pe­ri­ence a ser­vice or prod­uct, that builds the emo­tion and the emo­tion leads to the sale,” he said, adding that could re­sult in an in­crease in sales for a com­pany.

As the re­tail land­scape changes and con­sumers opt to pay more for ex­pe­ri­ences rather than goods, Porsche’s Ex­pe­ri­ence cen­ters may be a great mar­ket­ing tool to con­nect with new and ex­ist­ing mar­kets.

A 2017 Har­ris Poll, showed 70 per­cent of Amer­i­cans pre­fer to put their money on ex­pe­ri­ences rather than goods.

The com­pany has in re­cent months recorded high sales in its North Amer­i­can mar­ket, which may partly be due to the suc­cess of the ex­pe­ri­ence cen­ters.

“For years, we used to sell based on needs. The new mar­ket­ing trend is we can cre­ate a need by let­ting peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence the prod­uct or ser­vice we have. When they ex­pe­ri­ence the prod­uct it de­vel­ops a need to buy,” added Selden.

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