Posts from ‘Brands and Marketing’
by Don Sikora
Note: The following story was excerpted from the April 2018 issue of Collectible Automobile magazine.
Jeep’s compact Cherokee and Wagoneer proved popular after their debuts for 1984, and parent AMC was already working on a larger replacement when Chrysler bought the company in 1987. Chrysler had other priorities, so it took until the 1993 model year for the replacement to go on sale. At that point the decision was made to keep the old type in production and position the new vehicle upmarket as the Grand Cherokee and Grand Wagoneer.
Maybe it was just the prevailing atmosphere of the Eighties, but when the Chevrolet Corvette was redesigned for 1984, it was no longer a muscle-bound sports car. Instead, it was marketed as a high-tech marvel.
In the annals of automotive retailing, there are few–if any–model names that have been applied to more body types or market segments than Mercury’s Cougar badge. Over the moniker’s multi-decade run, it was used on coupes, sedans, station wagons, convertibles, pony cars, muscle cars, luxury cars, and, at the end of its run, a front-wheel-drive sporty hatchback.
Merkur, if you recall the brand, was in many ways a marketing complement to General Motors’s Geo experiment.
Given how socially vilified cigarettes and other tobacco products are today, it may be difficult for people much under the age of 40 to recall a time when smoking was not only generally accepted, it was openly promoted.
Even if you are only a casual follower of the new-vehicle marketplace, you are likely familiar with GMC’s popular Denali trim level. Denalis are the best-equipped, most luxuriously trimmed trucks in any given GMC vehicle model line. Denali has proven to be a profit center for GMC, with the customer take rate on the pricey trim level running as high as 50 percent on the Yukon/Yukon XL large SUVs.
To truly excite the passions of the American automotive media, you need news that strikes close to home. International news, no matter how significant, is generally met with indifference among many U.S. auto writers. General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra and the GM board of directors opt out of the European, Indian, and South African new-vehicle markets—yawn. The Chinese government mandates that 12 percent of new vehicles retailed in China (the world’s largest new-car market) must be pure electric by 2020—whatever.
Why would Aston Martin, a British company known for building ultra-luxury high-performance coupes, contract with Japanese automaker Toyota to build an Aston-branded version of one of the smallest, least-powerful Toyota-built cars on the market? Turns out there’s a good answer to that question, but it gets a little complicated.