‘Has Jack lost his marbles?’ ‘Are the memes getting to him?’ You may well have asked as much after my posting a huge list of the cars I have driven. The list is nearly as long as that of the girls in Arthur Fonzarelli’s black book. But there was a purpose to it.
When I look at this list, I see which brands have survived and which have died—Triumph being one close to my heart as it was what I drove as a high school student.
Each person is almost the sum of his or her brands. And brands themselves may want to target certain psychographics, repositioning themselves to suit. This is usually done based on historical data, which is why not many brands in the automotive sphere manage to crack new segments (exceptions include the Toyota Prius and the original Chrysler T-115 minivan). If Škoda wishes to be the new Volkswagen, and Volkswagen wants to be the new Audi, they make changes to their brands and communicate them to the desired segments over a period of time. Eventually the old images disappear in favour of the new ones, with the better coordinated marketing programme speedier in deleting the old notions.
But they must also understand that the segments change. I begin this list driving very humble cars: at age 13 (probably illegal now, but this was before the learner-licence system in New Zealand) trying out an HC Viva on country roads outside Masterton. That much is normal: as my income increased, I could afford newer vehicles. It also illustrates that the premium brands are moving into the mainstream, as evidenced by the Audi A3—given that the old Audi 50 was never sold Down Under, as far as I know. The engines have gotten bigger, which is not necessarily a good sign as fuel economy drops.
If we keep extrapolating these trends, one would presume that by a certain point, a Lincoln Town Car would be suitable for me. That is the model a lot of automakers depend on—the upward movement of a buyer over a period. Hence, Crown Vics, Mercury Grand Marquis and Town Cars are sold to older buyers, being the biggest cars Ford makes in its mainstream lines with the exception of the Ford Fairlane and LTD in Australia. Matlock drove a Marquis.
But are boomers going to be quite as easy to coax into these behemoths? Probably not. There may be less loyalty than before. There has been a period of consumerism where they think they want something more special than what their parents drove. They have seen fashionable crossover vehicles in a smaller size, like the Ford Edge.
So if those companies toward the bottom of the list wish to retain me, then they need to look at delivering what I want as my tastes change. Given how many older people bought smaller, rather than bigger, Jaguars (the X-type cannibalized XJ sales), size does not matter. No wonder Mercedes-Benz has had a hit with the small SLK: the trend toward the large cars has waned.
The ideal next bunch of cars need to be as stylish as the Aston and Porsche, as fuel-efﬁcient as the Peugeot diesel, and as practical as the Ford Territory. They will cross so many segments that “crossover” will become a nearly useless term, as all vehicles will combine obvious features from everywhere. Above all, they will be classless, as the distinction between premium and mainstream disappears in the automotive market.
Del.icio.us tags: future | cars | automobiles | design | marketing | segments | market | baby boomers | premium | brands | mainstream | branding | psychographics | trends | automotive industry | crossovers Posted by Jack Yan, 06:53
Update: the reaction people have had to SUVs at GM’s request is another sign that the longer–taller–higher trend of Detroit is not what consumers really want. Check out Johnnie Moore’s post here—I happen to agree with him.Post a Comment
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