Social media case study: Mercedes takes its “design a car” utility to millennials on Instagram

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For car manufacturers, one of the most popular sales tools is the “design your own car” utility, which is typically found on the brand’s website. For the launch of the new Mercedes-Benz GLA, Mercedes wanted to target high income millennials who live on social media so decided to bring the “design your own car” utility to them via Instagram.

Case study summary

• For the launch of the new GLA car, Mercedes-Benz bought the popular “design your car” feature to Instagram

• Taking the functionality to social media proved a success with the younger target audience


For the launch of the new GLA, Mercedes-Benz wanted to reach younger car buyers as in the U.S. the average age of a Mercedes buyer was 53. Research showed that millennial buyers chose competitors such as Audi and BMW over Mercedes-Benz. In order to target a younger audience with a high income, Mercedes-Benz decided to connect with them on social platforms – where they spend much of their time.


To connect with millennial buyers Mercedes-Benz decided to create the first car configurator on Instagram. The idea took advantage of the new “tagging” functionality allowing Mercedes to give consumers a way to pick colours, wheels, roof type and the grill of their new GLA car.

Mercedes-Benz adapted to Instagram by creating hundreds of linked accounts and thousands of images to represent all of the customisable options. At the end of the process, users were given a price for their customised car and were encouraged to visit their local dealer for more information.

This new feature was promoted by the Mercedes-Benz USA (@mbusa) Instagram account which at the time had over 175,000 followers. A promo video was created and posted on Facebook and Instagram using paid media to amplify impressions to the target audience.


Bringing the “design your own car” utility directly to the target audience’s native environment on social media drove strong results. The experience resulted in over 100,000 Instagram likes and 20,000 new followers to the @mbusa account. Thousands of cars were built using the account, which received positive comments.

Mercedes was praised by Fast Company on the day of launch “Mercedes isn’t waiting for people to come to their site.” The campaign won a silver award at the Mobile Marketing Association Global Smarties Awards 2015.

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