CMO interview: Citroen’s global brand chief on modern marketing

We chat with the global marketing chief of iconic French car manufacturing brand, Citreon about its 100-year celebrations and creative approach

Arnaud Belloni
Arnaud Belloni

Customer contribution

Even as the traditional mechanisms of marketing creative continue, customer voice gains ground at Citroen. Like many brands, Belloni’s team are increasingly tuning into customer insights in order to improve executions, products and engagement.

One thing Belloni claims Citroen is doing differently is its proprietary feedback tool, dubbed Citroen advisor. Similarly to TripAdvisor, the platform allows customers to rate products, dealer service or sales staff on a scale of 1-5 and leave comments, with results certified by a research company. The tool is now available in 42 of Citroen’s 90 markets and on its way to Australia.

Supporting this is a customer listening team classifying information into three types: The things Belloni says he can’t do anything about; the ones he can fix immediately; and the things that will take 12-14 months to fix, such as product modifications. Very often, such comments will affect marketing.

“For example, we had feedback the GPS is too complex and a consumer doesn’t know how to use it. I checked the car myself, saw this to be the case, so we launched a tutorial on that, which I spread on the Internet,” he says.

“Sometimes it might be comments on advertising. It can be a science to listen to people… Listening to people through this system for me just marketing page one, line one, word one.”

Industry disruption

It’s vital Citroen has a way of listening to customers because the world has transformed. From ride-sharing and rental-based car usage to the rise of autonomous vehicles, the car industry is being disrupted rapidly.

Read more: Driven to distraction: The rise of the self-driving car experience

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Why driverless vehicles and car sharing won’t mean the ‘death of the car’

Belloni notes today’s consumer is over informed and an influencer. Secondly, technology is permeating everything, from consumer interaction to the car itself. Thirdly, behaviour has completely changed with regards to automotive.

Off the back of this, Citroen has launched the ‘Citroen EuroPass’ allowing consumers to rent cars from dealers, provides a car sharing aggregation (Free2Move), has another mobile app to track a car and book in servicing, and overhauled its product line to be electric.

Yet while Belloni agrees the urban revolution is well underway, he expects a second revolution around the long-haul drive and the “comeback of cars”. But with cars becoming autonomous, it’s clear manufacturers must reinvent the life on-board, he says.

“It has to become a saloon, sofa, a giant screen, where you can play games or read books, share information and so on. That’s going to be a second revolution. The first is short-term; the second is long-term,” Belloni predicts.

“The cost of access to this is not affordable yet for autonomous. But it could become accessible, developing new solutions for cities. As an industry, things are changing massively. But there is still an enormous place for us.”

With a CEO willing to disrupt to meet this future need, Belloni sees Citroen’s future as a bright one. Across Peugeot Citroen, profits lifted in the first six months of the year even as sales fell, and a new push into India with more economic vehicles is expected to bear further fruit.

“We need a new generation of car, which is where we have to disrupt and bring something new to the market,” Belloni adds.  

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