LOS ANGELES – Cadillac is trying to regain its prominence, and one way to do that beyond producing worthy vehicles is by putting the customer front and center, says Eric Angeloro, a new-age marketer for the General Motors luxury brand.

He recalls the good old days.

“Cadillac has been around for 115 years, and at one point was the standard of the world, larger than life,” he says. “In my family, when you made it, you owned a Cadillac. We need to get that back.”

Cadillac ranks No.5 in the U.S. luxury-vehicle segment. It sold 170,006 units last year, about half of what segment leader Mercedes-Benz delivered, according to WardsAuto data.

Part of the comeback plan includes introducing quality-driven new products such as the CT6 flagship sedan, considered the brand’s technological showcase carrying 13 patents.

Angeloro, who formerly worked at Mercedes, oversees marketing for the CT6 and XTS model lines.

But the brand’s revival movement “is more than just great products,” he says at the 2017 Customer Experience Summit here. “It also is, how do we change the customer experience and the evolving customer expectation? The way to do that is to put the customer in the center.”

He cites a particular initiative called Cadillac Connective. It’s an advanced version of a digital chat room in which customers and others share their experiences, express their opinions and engage with the automaker.

“We see this community as an extension of the brand,” Angeloro says. “It’s outwitting traditional marketing.”

That’s because the system, powered by a company called Vision Criticals, garners user feedback, puts it in graphic and chart form and shares it back with the user community, he says. “That says, ‘This is because of you.’”

An example of that is showing them advertising and marketing that’s in the works to get their feedback. It’s like a digital focus group.

Cadillac internally uses the information collected on Cadillac Connective for marketing purposes and more, Angeloro tells WardsAuto.      

“These are things we couldn’t have done without this platform,” he adds. “It lets us not only listen, but to share information with others within our organization. It allows for surveys and quantification of data, then presents that graphically for our use and understanding”    

Select GM engineers and designers participate monthly in “ask-me-anything” sessions.   

The brand has actively recruited participants for Cadillac Connective. Members are not exclusively Cadillac vehicle owners. In fact, “70% have no relationship with Cadillac or GM,” Angeloro says. But he confidently adds, “Many hand-raisers in our insights community will become customers.”     

sfinlay@wardsauto.com