Rolls-Royce’s Bespoke program “Neon Nights” is a limited edition of four in each color. BENEDICT CAMPBELL / ROLLS-ROYCE
Created for a specific client, by Rolls-Royce’s team of specialists in the Bespoke program, the cars in the “Dusk in Tokyo” collection are wrapped in a complex white pigment containing aluminum and mica flakes. The subtle tone is reminiscent of typical Tokyo glass and concrete towers when bathed in the warm light of dusk.
Meanwhile, the personalized “Iridescent Opulence” decoration is adorned with 3,000 hand-sewn shimmering feathers on a fabric that radiates outward from the center clock of the Phantom model dashboard. In another custom commission, famous artist Esther Mahlangu creates a unique work of art.
These are just a few examples of Rolls-Royce’s bespoke orders from last year. While much of the world has seen a hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic, the luxury goods maker has had its most demanding year for bespoke products. During the various lockdowns, the collective of artists and designers, engineers and craftsmen of the Rolls-Royce Bespoke division of Goodwood, UK, worked alongside customers remotely to create these ultra-powered cars. customized. The enduring appetite of this group of consumers for products that have a very personal place seems to have been reinforced by the experience of the pandemic.
“Never before have we seen such a level of tailor-made detail in every order,” says Torsten Müller-Ötvös. Rolls-Royce CEO believes this is because his customers seek solace in creativity, “by ordering introspective luxury items that will stand the test of time to become enduring and poignant heirlooms.” Realizing that this true tailor-made service is one of the key elements that separate the brand from its rivals, Rolls-Royce is naturally keen to explore its possibilities further.
The aim of the Bespoke program is to offer unique experiences. There’s a lot of talk these days about the experiential economy and an empirical consumption landscape. The way this translates into orders is to encourage customer involvement in the process and in the business. And there seems to be a thirst for this kind of intimate experience.
“Our customers are more eager to create a legacy or a signature on a product,” says Julian Jenkins, Rolls-Royce regional manager for Europe and Central Asia. “Whether it’s wines, watches or works of art, they want to get as close as possible to the source,” he says. “They are interested, engaged and want to meet our designers and engineers. This process gives us the opportunity to create wonderful custom cars for them. “
To protect customer privacy, Rolls-Royce orders are increasingly placed through encrypted digital messaging services on platforms such as WhatsApp and Signal. Technology also played an important role in sales during the pandemic, especially when the company decided to reveal one of its most important products, the Rolls-Royce Ghost, in the midst of the pandemic.
The London Mayfair retail space (currently being moved to its new nearby location on Berkeley Street) now offers a full virtual showroom experience. Its most popular service is the simulation of a car ride as well as video conferencing on design and technology.
According to Jenkins, customers are increasingly keen to know the origin, to know what is under the hood and to discover the process of design. He explains: “Rolls-Royce hasn’t necessarily talked a lot about technology in the past, but more and more our customers want to know more about this aspect, to set up video calls to know the configuration of their car. We have organized events to improve the personal experience: getting to know the car, how to drive it better, dynamic course, off-roading with the Cullinan ”.
Each bespoke ordering process is different and largely depends on the customer, their place of residence, lifestyle, etc. It can start with a virtual workshop, where the customer discusses their vision while product experts respond with images and ideas. The Bespoke team then formulates the first design sketches while material samples and physical renderings are mailed to the customer for review. Once the aesthetic part is validated, customers can sign their commitment digitally. In 2020, Mr. Jenkins saw many customers enlist without physically seeing the car.
Then there is the Rolls-Royce “Whispers” application: a sort of exclusive club launched a few years ago to interact more intimately with customers and thus offer a service that goes beyond the sale of cars. According to Julian Jenkins, the platform has been very successful in giving itself the opportunity to engage directly with its customers and it has also proven to be a great networking tool between Rolls-Royce owners.
Rolls-Royce is arguably the most customer-centric brand; it is anchored in offering personal relationships with customers and encourages them to invest not only in objects but also in what the brand represents. It is a place where you have to be powerful. “You have to understand that Rolls-Royce is a very stable organization with people who stay here for long periods. So it’s about long-term, intimate relationships that we’ve built with our clients, ”says Jenkins, who points out that just last night a client called him at 11pm to talk to him. of his order. “They discuss their latest business, tell me about an upcoming birthday, etc. Our relationship goes far beyond the purchase of a car, and we seek to add value by promoting this. For our customers, buying a car online is therefore second nature. They trust us “.
The digital realm is certainly practical, but the pandemic makes many of us crave a physical experience, emotion, and that element of creativity that tends to come more naturally from human interactions. Does Mr. Jenkins see the customer relationship becoming a partnership between the virtual world and the physical world? “Our policy is to integrate the two, but above all to make them harmonious. We are talking about the concept of “effortless service” at Rolls-Royce. This means the customer doesn’t have to wait or plan. There is a natural evolution of the process that starts with the generation of ideas, but then the physical samples and the renderings will be on their way to the customer. Our designers travel the world and call on customers when and when needed ”.
Mr. Jenkins is confident that Rolls-Royce’s bespoke orders will continue to thrive. The surge in interest during the pandemic, he says, is in part due to the fact that many of his clients have had the rare luxury of time. “I recently had a client who spent a lot of time on his order, not because he wanted to create a style, but because he wanted the car to capture his personality so he could leave it as a legacy. to his sons. He sees the car not as a commodity, but as a timeless work of art. “
Article translated from Forbes US – Author: Nargess Banks