Posts Tagged ‘subaru’

What to do about automotive marketing?

Friday, April 30th, 2010

What a difference a year makes.  It’s 2010 and the auto industry is beginning to recover.

After an incredibly tough 2009, consumers seem to be coming back.  For the first time in recent memory, Americans’ perception of domestic automobiles seems to be on the mend (Business Week 4/23).  Ford’s bet that Americans will buy smaller, fully featured automobiles looks like it may pay off.  GM’s product plan created by soon-to-retire Bob Lutz is leading a resurgence for the General.  Hyundai and Kia, supported my excellent product quality, have taken advantage of recessionary sensibilities and grown share of market.  Audi , Subaru and Mini have come out of the recession on a tear.

On the other side of the ledger, Toyota continues to struggle with recalls and concerns about quality.  This has led to unprecedented incentives by Toyota and the predictable response by competitors to match them.  So a good number of consumers who had been sitting on sidelines during the recession have come back to dealerships looking to for a good deal.  After 2009, it’s a relief to see traffic in the stores but at the same time if the incentives continue that will not be good for the industry long term.  In 2009, some progress had been made at reducing the use of incentives, but the moment Toyota jumped in to defend its franchise, that opened the floodgates again.

So the good news is that customers are returning to the stores, but are they coming back for the right reasons?

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Hyundai’s Assurance Program does not a brand make…now what?

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

The big news in automotive marketing this week was that Joel Ewanick is leaving Hyundai and going to head up marketing at Nissan. Hyundai won 2009 marketer of the year under Ewanick’s leadership and the company implemented the breakthrough Hyundai Assurance Program.

The Hyundai Assurance Program was a stroke of brilliance at a time when the economy and the auto industry were in a tailspin.  It basically gave consumers a no risk way to purchase a vehicle.  If you bought a Hyundai and subsequently lost your job, you could return the car, no questions asked.  Truly brilliant and it propelled Hyundai through the recession and out the other end.  Hyundai’s 2009 sales grew 8% and its share of market was up 1.1 points.  This performance earned it elite status as one of only three automobile brands (Kia & Subaru were the others) to increase volume in 2009, while the industry overall declined 21%*.

The Hyundai Assurance Program was an unqualified success in a tough marketing climate.  But now what? (more…)

Subaru & Mini?

Monday, April 20th, 2009

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In a market that is seeing unprecedented declines in sales in all segments, across all product types, in all parts of the country, two marques defy the slump; Subaru and Mini.

At first blush, you might say to yourself, that makes sense both are smaller more fuel efficient cars, both are far from symbols of conspicuous consumption, both are relatively reasonably priced.  But there are tons of brands and models offering fuel efficiency, are reasonably priced and not symbols of conspicuous consumption.  This logic doesn’t explain why Subaru and Mini have dodged the recession.

I would submit that these companies have gone through the recession relatively unscathed because they have a loyal base of customers and brands that consumers understand clearly.  These brands enjoy an almost fanatical devotion by their customers and these customers are advocates for the brands to virtually every person who happens to ask and probably some who don’t.

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