Chapter 5

Marketing Is Commerce, Commerce Is Marketing

London’s Piccadilly is both the best and the worst kind of environment to try to sell luxury cars. Slicing through some upscale neighborhoods, the wide boulevard is highly trafficked by sophisticated, discerning, and affluent urban dwellers—exactly the kind of buyer that a luxury automaker is looking for. But this is London, so real estate comes at a premium, meaning that a sprawling showroom big enough to show off all of an automaker’s models and derivatives probably isn’t in the cards. Most don’t bother to try and settle for installing showrooms in out-of-the-way parts of the city or even outside it.

Audi, however, decided to crack the code. Last year, just before the Summer Olympics, the company opened a revolutionary new showroom in Piccadilly. Audi City, designed by our Emerging Experiences Lab, takes prospective buyers through the range of possibilities by using immersive technology. Only Audi’s halo cars are present in the showroom, but by using this technology a shopper can look at every model, derivative, color, and specification and virtually experience the customized car they’re seeking.

Using multitouch displays, the buyer configures his or her dream ride from millions of combinations, visualizing it with photorealistic three-dimensional technology. To experience it, the shopper “tosses” the image onto a floor-to-ceiling power wall, where that dream car stands before him in life-size scale. Then the shopper can ...

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