August 14, 2021
There are millions of companies. Thousands of advertising agencies. Hundreds of research companies. On the market where data is collected by a smaller number of entities, a situation arises where the same data, reports, analyses are provided to many companies. These companies often operate in the same industry, nay! are even in competition with each other. Today we will focus on the automotive industry. And this won't be a story about some one niche automotive brand.
Customers' tastes and preferences are changing. Companies adjust their offerings based on customer behaviour research, sales data and analyses of the development of a given segment. On this basis, rational decisions are made regarding the direction of the company's development, its product offer and positioning for the coming years.
At this point I would like to talk about my youthful years. That was a few years ago now, and while I'm probably entering a mid-life crisis stage now, some dreams remain the same. Cars. Being in my teens, I wasn't interested in the fast cars that race on city streets and highways. I've always liked convertibles. And they are today's protagonist of this story.
Every self-respecting car brand had to have convertible cars in its range. This is due to many factors - mainly technological. Frameless door glass, tightness, safety, comfort... all this made the very process of designing convertibles expensive. Production was also not crucial for a given producer due to limited sales. The market was very competitive. Every manufacturer with a convertible range had to share the market between other players. The piece of cake was always small.
Convertibles were produced by luxury companies such as Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Jaguar... premium: BMW, Mercedes, Volvo... and available in the mid-segment: Opel, Renault, VW, Peugeot, Citroen... the offer for customers was therefore enormous. You could freely choose a car to match your design and technical expectations. There were cars with both hard and soft tops. Double and quadruple. Urban and more presentable. There was a choice. The client decided.
Customer preferences have meanwhile shifted towards SUVs. Classic cars are no longer in demand. Some companies, such as Nissan, have practically abandoned the production of sedan-type cars, focusing precisely on urban-terrain cars.
Let's think for a moment what kind of data the convertible companies were getting:
- customer preferences are moving towards SUVs
- the biggest drops in sales were recorded in cars of sedan type
- the convertible market was very, very competitive
- the production costs of the convertible model remained high
This has been compounded by acquisitions of companies like Volvo by Chinese companies whose owners, for various reasons (more on those below), don't want to make convertibles.
Ownership issues aside - the analysts at the auto companies did their job according to all the right rules. They inserted data into spreadsheets, completed tables, displayed graphs, interpreted indicators... and made the sensible decision to stop making convertibles.
There are only manufacturers of very luxurious convertibles left on the market, for which there has always been and will always be a demand, and... Fiat 500 (semi-cabriolet) and BMW mini. There is currently practically no offer in the B and C segment for customers who like to feel the wind in their hair.
Gone are such iconic convertibles as the Opel Astra, Renault Mégane, Peugeot 306CC, Volvo, Volkswagen EOS and Golf...
Let's consider from the side of marketing, the real one, and not marketing communications, which is mistakenly confused with marketing what happened and what should have happened. Analysts operate zero-one. Something is there, or something is not there. Algorithms are great at determining metrics, etc.
Marketing, however, is not analytical, but synthetic. Synthetic thinking involves the ability to give simple answers to complex questions instead of dithering over interdependencies.
Of course, there will be voices saying, "how so? After all, research and analytics are an important component of marketing!" You'll be all right. Unfortunately, many companies, or rather people in companies, make their decisions in the context of short-term actions rather than long-term ones. Analysts, marketers often make decisions that can be defended to company management that they have made based on data, analysis, prospects, reports.... There is a lack of bold visionaries.
This is the problem of our time and a huge pain point for marketing visionaries. Marketing is expected to produce growth with as little cost or risk as possible. People have learned to act this way. They began to prop up their analyses, suffocating their experience and intuition. If there was one visionary. In one company and retained production of convertibles in the mid-segment... the company would have just opened the champagne.
Back to Chinese Volvo owners. Apparently the reason for discontinuing the convertibles, which were some of the most beautiful on the market, is that convertibles are not driven in China due to air pollution. This is so deeply ingrained in the minds of the new brand owners that they don't allow for any other solution.
The conclusion is... acting in patterns, having the same data - we should obtain similar conclusions that result in similar decisions. The resulting marketing is then laden with a lack of boldness, uniqueness, distinction. It defies the idea of marketing. More courage, people!
The above article is the private opinion of the author. It was not intended to offend anyone or depreciate the brand. We treat this article in educational terms. If you feel that the author in any way e.g. violated the good name of your brand - contact the author. I'm sure we'll come to a common understanding.
A professional with many years of experience gained during the full process of designing and implementing marketing strategies, brand building, marketing communication, organization of trade marketing activities and their logistics in the supply chain. An expert in the field of brand activation, lotteries, commercial marketing, shopper marketing, e-commerce. A person with an open mind and taking advantage of opportunities that the competition does not see. Multidisciplinary, with a lot of positive energy. A negotiator using the Scotwork method.