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 visiting 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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