The establishment of the standalone DS premium brand in Britain will be built around the revised DS 3, which will formally be unveiled at the Geneva motor show, according to the brand’s UK boss Arnoud Leclerc.
DS is being positioned as a French-influenced alternative to Audi, BMW and Mercedes, with the DS 3, in particular, being targeted at the likes of the Audi A1 and Mini hatch. However, company bosses including Leclerc admit that establishing DS will take several years, and acknowledge that their first task is to build brand awareness.
“In the UK, the opportunity with DS 3 is clear,” said Leclerc. “We need to build brand awareness ahead of new product launches, and the 3 is well enough established in the public’s mind to give us the platform to do that. Outside of France, the UK is the biggest market, and between 65% and 70% of sales are to new customers to the PSA Group - it is a car that changes perceptions.”
Leclerc described the typical 3 customer as “expressionists” looking for “more status, style and performance”. He added that the typical 3 customer was also more in line with the target market for DS brand values than for its other vehicles, the DS 4 and DS 5, at present - something he expected to shift as the brand becomes better known.
“We are working hard to raise awareness, but it is a long job,” said Leclerc, highlighting initiatives including pop-up stores in major retail outlets such as Westfield as examples of how the firm will do this. “We believe in the products, but it takes time and investment to get our message through. We have tested the brand around the world - and the message back is that avante garde spirit, done in a very French way, has a universal appeal.”