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Why Porsche Is Opening Showrooms in Malls

911 dakar at porsche studio
Why Porsche Is Opening Showrooms in MallsJoe Kucinski

The first Porsche Studio on the East Coast opened in a mall outside of Philadelphia, P.A. around the holidays last year. This Studio is the third of its kind in the country. More will be coming, but not just from Porsche. Other luxury automakers are following a similar trend of trying to make their brands more accessible to more consumers.

On February 6, the Porsche Studio in King of Prussia, P.A. held its formal grand opening event that had several Porsche VIPs in attendance, including Joe Lawrence, the chief operating officer for Porsche Cars North America. The Pennsylvania location is the third Studio, following others in Portland, O.R., and San Diego, C.A.

To learn more about the Porsche Studio concept, Road & Track sat down with Lauren Waldrop, the general manager of Porsche Conshohocken and the Porsche Studio King of Prussia. Waldrop succinctly summed up the studio concept in six words: “Meet the customers where they are."

Waldrop believes that for many people, making a dedicated trip to a Porsche dealership can be an intimidating experience. But if someone is walking through a mall and just happens to see a Porsche store, it's likely more inviting to stop in without feeling pressured to buy a car.

joe lawrence
Joe Kucinski

“The Porsche Studio is meant to be a gathering place that attracts younger people, women, and consumers that are already loyal to another automotive brand," Waldrop said. "These groups are the least likely to go to a traditional Porsche dealership."

The Porsche Studio is not a traditional dealership. It feels more like an upscale café that happens to have a 911 Dakar inside. You walk in, grab a cup of coffee, or a bottle of water, sit at the bar, and just chill out for as long as you like. From our experience visiting the King of Prussia location, there is zero sales pressure or expectations that you buy a car. The idea is to just get you introduced to the brand. It is there to warm you up to the Porsche lifestyle.

“It is about brand introduction and making people feel at ease,” said Waldrop.

porsche studio king of prussia
Joe Kucinski

Of course, there's also an opportunity for merchandise sales. And, who knows? Maybe if you buy a Porsche mug today, that'll turn into a new 911 a few years down the road. To that end, you will find inside the studio a large merchandise section that carries significantly more selection than a typical dealership. The studio also partners with local artists and always has a rotating display of Porsche-themed artwork. The display of cars, merchandise, and artwork is always changing.

“If you come here once, don’t think that you saw it all,” Waldrop said.

porsche merch
Joe Kucinski

Porsche is not alone with this studio concept. Other manufacturers are already doing something similar, and more are sure to follow. Lucid already has more than 20 Lucid Studio locations across the U.S. These locations typically have a car or two on display, a merchandise section, and lounge areas where you can relax and get to know the Lucid cars. They even offer a VR experience that will put you inside a Lucid Air vehicle so you can experience what it is like to be inside the car. Like the Porsche Studio, the Lucid Studio locations are designed to be the opposite of the “what do I need to do to put you in a car today” type of sales experience that most people try to avoid.

Tesla has also had mall locations for years. In fact, right across the hallway from the Porsche Studio I visited, is a Tesla store. Tesla currently has a Cybertruck along with a few other models on display there. Obviously, the Cybertruck is a huge draw. Everyone is curious about it, and if you happen to spot one while strolling around the mall, you are going to take a closer look. Maybe you don’t buy a Cybertruck that day, but it gets you thinking about the Tesla brand.

porsche studio
Joe Kucinski

The New York Post recently reported that Ferrari signed a lease agreement for 3,700 square feet of retail space in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City. Ferrari has not yet stated its intentions for that space. But it most likely will not be a typical Ferrari dealership. SoHo is known for its high-end shopping boutiques. It would be the perfect place for Ferrari to open a studio space like Porsche, Lucid, and others. The supercar brand already has a corporate showroom further north in Manhattan off Park Avenue.

While the main focus of these studios is not to sell cars, you can certainly begin the sales process there if you would like. Lucid, Tesla, and Porsche all have vehicles available to test drive from their studio locations. And they all have configuration spaces where you can fully spec out your dream car. This could hint at the future of luxury or even mainstream vehicle shopping.

“There could be big dealership model changes. This boutique will be the future. Brick and mortar is not going away, it is just changing,” Waldrop said.

With the electric car revolution, the way cars are built and perform is changing drastically. As automakers introduce more and more of these studio locations, it seems that the way people will experience new models and buy new cars is also poised to go through a transformation.

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