Oliver Blume has been Chairman of the Executive Board at Porsche AG for five years. Under his leadership, the company has enjoyed the most successful period in its history to date.
Since Oliver Blume took over as Chairman of Porsche AG, the company’s operating result has risen by 60% and Porsche has presented the Taycan, the first fully electrically powered Porsche. With his calm and sovereign management style, the man from Braunschweig has led the company through the Corona crisis and uncompromisingly and consistently into the (electric) future in all dimensions.
For this, he received the “Brand Manager of the Year” award at the German Brand Award 2021.
Mr Blume, you are the head of one of the strongest brands in the world. Porsche stands for sound, engines and irresistible design. You are faced with the monumental challenge of shepherding your power brand into the age of e-mobility. What skills are necessary to achieve this? Are attributes from the start-up sphere, such as agility and a care-free attitude, useful here?
Yes, they are. Today, we work with methods that are also used by start-ups. In the past few years, we have transformed Porsche from a functionally led operation to a process and team-orientated company. The success of the entire team comes before everything else. For me, passion and enthusiasm are incredibly important qualities. This is what has enabled us to secure a leading position in the e-mobility sector in a very short time with our Taycan; as one of the first traditional car manufacturers on the market, we have been able to give Tesla a run for their money. However, electrification is not the only challenge here. Digitalisation and connectivity are likewise global mega trends in the mobility sector. Climate change, too, requires urgent action. In the years leading up to 2025 alone, Porsche is investing more than 15 billion euros in these future topics and our own transformation.
The key to strong and lasting brand positioning lies in reconciling two opposing factors: consistency and change. Which of the two factors carries more weight?
Both are important. Particularly for a brand like Porsche with more than 70 years of tradition in building sports cars. Nonetheless, the focus is on change. At Porsche, we see change as an opportunity. We are proactive and systematic in moving changes forward – with pioneering spirit, passion and innovative strength, using a clear strategy with ambitious goals. My argument is as follows: Porsche has only stayed Porsche because we have always been developing ourselves. In doing so we maintain a constant focus on what makes our brand strong and what sets us apart from other manufacturers.
The power of a brand – its USP – has to be intelligently communicated. Which communication channels are essential for you, Mr Blume?
To communicate the essence of the Porsche brand, we use the full spectrum of channels that are available today: on- and offline, analogue and digital, text, photos and moving images. Porsche captivates its audience with objective facts and figures alongside gripping reports about motor sport successes, or emotional stories from over seven decades of brand history. We make sure everyone can experience the fascinating world of our brand: at the point of sale in the Porsche Centre, on the race track, at the charging stations for our fully electric vehicles, through our online presence and our innovative service offerings.
Customers are becoming increasingly demanding, not least in terms of sustainability and fair production conditions. To what extent does the concept of a green future influence your corporate strategy?
Sustainability is a given for us, so it is naturally a central pillar of our strategy. At Porsche, we take our responsibility to future generations very seriously – this results in a holistic approach to sustainability that addresses economic, ecological and social factors. Take decarbonisation, for example, we have set ourselves a very ambitious goal in this area. By 2030, Porsche will be CO2 neutral along our entire supply chain. Our first priority is to avoid the production of CO2 emissions. Where this is not possible, we are reducing them, continuously and consistently. Offsetting through the purchase of CO2 certificates plays a lesser role for us. Porsche is a pioneer of sustainable mobility and, by implementing the measures outlined above, is at the forefront of the changes taking place within the automotive industry. Fair production practices and conditions are always kept firmly in focus – this goes for our suppliers, too. Suppliers only receive orders from Porsche, if they have met our sustainability criteria.
“Sustainability is a given for us and it is naturally a central pillar of our strategy.”
— Oliver Blume
Mr Blume, with regard to asserting yourself on the global market, which distribution channels will become more important in future and which will, perhaps, become less relevant?
The progression of digitalisation has contributed to the increasing importance of online sales. Porsche is no exception here: for some time now, customers have been able to complete substantial parts of the vehicle purchase process online. The initial contact of new customers with our brand or even the basic configuration of new vehicles is increasingly taking place via our digital channels. For Porsche, however, I don’t see this happening at the expense of the traditional sales path through our dealer network. After all, our brand is characterised by a high level of exclusivity and highly individualised products. Our customers expect personal consultation and assistance in addition to outstanding service in their vicinity. This can best be guaranteed by our global network of Porsche Centres that is staffed by expert employees – supplemented by digital offerings.
How important is the haptic experience when deciding to buy a brand product, Mr Blume? To me, it seems natural to think that for a lifestyle product, such as a bag, the essence of the brand can be more easily depicted online. Would you disagree?
That may be true for many products. But technical specifications and the unmistakable design are not the only aspects of our sports cars which inspire our customers. Above all else, what really makes them unique is the sporty driving experience. And this is something that is very difficult to convey online. The special performance, the highly emotional driving dynamics and agility of a Porsche, these are things that the customer must experience for themselves. During a test drive, for example, ideally on the race track at one of our Porsche Experience Centres.
“Porsche is characterised by a high level of exclusivity.”
— Oliver Blume
First published in the catalogue of the German Brand Award 2021. Source: German Design Council.
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