The Loss of Identity in Luxury Automakers.
From some time on I see some Brands, specifically Luxury Auto Makers, [Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Porsche, Jaguar and also Harley Davidson] Suffering from loss of identity, and also Massification.
Expert’s will say it’s the Brand’s following the Market in order to be sustainable and also to increase profits.
And it’s true, all this companies now enjoy growing revenues and profits.
But the thing is, Until when?
Marketers are drinking the juice from the trees planted in the 20th century, many decades and effort that built the brand’s mantra and mysticism.
When that Juice runs out what will happen?
Beyond the mystic and unconscious aspect of the brand what (emotional factor) will seduce the costumer?
I am talking about the Crossover and SUV Class.
Like everybody knows, SUV stands for Sub Urban Vehicle or Sport Utility Vehicle, so, normally, is a vehicle in a light truck chassis and supposedly AWD which is not classy, elegant, luxurious, and it definitely lack’s good taste.
Also, the last time I checked, there are more and more people living in cities and urban areas, so this does not make any sense.
The Crossover phenomenon, its rooted not on rational aspects, because all statements in favor are easily debunked;
- “It’s Safer”: No it isn’t, its more unstable than a sedan because it cruises higher above the ground. Its more dangerous to drive and do corners, and its more likely that the car rollover in an accident.
Also its more heavy, so it’s harder to brake.
- “It has more Trunk and Interior Capacity”: Normally station wagons have more Cargo space and interior capacity.
- “I Can go Offroad”: In most models you will get stuck anyways, and also, the % of people that end up going offroad is insipient.
- Also its more expensive to run.
This phenomenon is rooted on subconscious aspects.
It’s the Human need to make itself noticeable and respected, a survival need.
A Big Physical presence “demands” more respect from other people, creating the illusion of a person to be more powerful and successful in life.
This, aligned with the softness of civilized/modern design, makes wonders in the Crossover consumer.
So unconsciously they feel attracted to the Crossovers because they lack the money to traditional Midprice sedans but don’t want to give up the size factor.
That’s why in the Lower and Low Middle Class you see the consumer choosing crossovers on top and bellow them, the traditional smaller models.
So, for the Low and Low Middle Class it’s normal because they lack the money, but what about the Luxury SUV’s?
The Buyer of the Luxury SUV it’s what is known by the Nouveau Riche.
People that gained some wealth within its own generation by any means, but they lack all the structure and politeness of a traditional middle or upper class individual.
In order to achieve this aspirational group they buy the Luxury SUV’s because they are bigger, with the objective of Overthrown the Middle and Upper Class.
This phenomenon would most commonly be observed in individuals who may have lower levels of self-confidence, who may perceive themselves as weaker in comparison with others.
You can find in your daily life a similar phenomenon, the barking and aggressive stance of the little size dogs, but only when they are “safe”, and the bigger, stronger dogs, quiet, calm and relaxed knowing their power.
That’s the biggest reason why you see Low Middle Class individuals that gained some wealth buying this type of vehicle, to try to achieve their aspirational group status.
This Week Rolls Royce the Most Luxury Brand in the World, Announced an SUV… An Ugly, disproportionate car, that is not meant for their traditional public.
Rolls Royce is the selected brand of Royal Families, head of states, CEO’s, and any very successful person, that normally has good taste.
This type of person normally shares common traits and tastes.
Rolls Royce stands for the Personification of Luxury, Elegance and Good Taste in a Vehicle.
Do you imagine Queen Elizabeth II going on the New Rolls SUV? Do you imagine a CEO from a DJIA Listed company, driving an SUV from Bentley? It’s Pure Lack of Taste and Elegance.
I Know that brands did not abandoned their Flagship Models but opening the door to this new type of costumer, could eventually sacrifice the brands mantra and charm and with that, its traditional costumer.
Destroying the brand mantra and spooking the traditional costumers, will, in the long run, also destroy the new costumers, that will not stay loyal to something that its empty.
And will make a purely rational option when choosing for a new vehicle.
What happens now with: Fiat, Renault, Peugeot, Citroen, Seat etc…
The reason is simple and already observed in other examples of Massification and Loss of Identity like Pierre Cardin.
People tend to buy what their aspiration group buys, if they shift to other brands, like Bugatti, Lotus, Morgan, TVR, MacLaren, Koenigsegg, etc…
If this brands want to enter/master the GT and Luxury Sedan Market they can capitalize on the loss of identity of the “traditional” brands.
Jaguar introduced a Mass Market Strategy you can buy a “Jag” for less than 29.000£ (Jaguar E-Pace) also the entry level of a Crossover is a little more expensive 31.505£ (Jaguar XE) and you can go for a spin in a weak (2000cc) diesel car nothing related with the Classic 1964 Jaguar E-Type one of the most beautiful cars ever made.
They are selling at this price, basically because they already started losing perceived quality, and it will get worse….
Harley-Davidson is creating Electrical Motorcycles… Ask any Harley Owner and Enthusiast what is one of the top characteristics they appreciate on Harley’s they will say the Noise and Rev’s.
You take this out, with that, also the brand mantra is changed, because the Harley’s Noise & Rev’s is one of the pillars of the emotional and unconscious aspect of the brand.
Remove this, and you remove the soul.
Will Harley Consumers keep loyal to the brand? Or will they feel betrayed? And turn to other brands, like Indian…
I, as a Marketing Expert, but also a deep thinker on different subjects, will say there are other ways for a luxury brand to be Sustainable and Profitable being loyal to brand identity and legacy.
Identity and Exclusivity based on high quality, unique products grant higher margins. That normally translates in higher operational results.
We are frequently earing that when a brand launches an exclusive model, on the launching day all the production it’s already sold out.
A Few years ago there was a trend of very big men wristwatches, and if you noticed only Fashion and Low Price Brands followed the trend.
The Big Luxury Brands, maintained the size and style.
Rolex, Patek Phillipe and Vacheron Constantin served the “same” wristwatches.
Staying loyal to your brand identity and traditional costumers will grant you authenticity. With that Larger Margins and Sustainability.
In Marketing Academies, it is always taught the Niche Marketing Strategy, the Luxury is a quite large niche worldwide, and the definition of luxury and good taste normally doesn’t change fast and obeys to deeper notions, concepts and philosophy’s.
So Why Abandon it?
João R Freitas
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