Posted by Dale Buss on April 1, 2013 04:31 PM
American Millennials are the apple of everyone's eye in the auto industry: They're the largest generation in the most reliable car market in the western world. And yet they're proving to be the most elusive in terms of attaching themselves to brands and even to the idea of owning a vehicle.
So automakers are beginning to do some unprecedented things to reach them. Case in point: Toyota executives revealed at the ongoing New York International Auto Show that they're considering converting Scion—which until now has focused on quirky designs and low prices to attract young buyers—into an entry-level "luxury" marque in a strategy that might enable the company to battle more effectively in that important gateway segment for upscale Generation Y buyers.
"Today it's hard to find much value below $18,000 to $20,000" for a car, Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota's North Ameica Region, told Automotive News. "There's going to be a big need in the $25,000 range for a fun-to-drive, nice-looking, value-oriented product."Continue reading...
Posted by Reneé Alexander on March 26, 2013 05:26 PM
This is not your grandfather’s retail environment.
In fact, with Target joining the likes of Nike, BMW and Mondelez in launching a mobile incubator/accelerator and funding developers to come up with apps that will take shopping into the future, it might seem more like your grandkids’. Target announced a contest earlier this month called “Co. Labs & Target Retail Accelerator,” that dangles a $75,000 prize to whoever develops the best new mobile experience for the company.
Target is looking for “transformative, technology-driven” ideas that should incorporate at least one of the company’s four priorities:Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on March 18, 2013 12:17 PM
Dragged down by a still-worsening automotive recession in their home continent, European automakers are pulling out all the stops in efforts to retain and create sales momentum—with some new initiatives in Europe and many in the still-growing markets outside of it. Meanwhile, Lexus is planning a global brand campaign in May as it finally puts a disastrous 2010 and 2011 behind it.
German automakers Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW are jockeying not only to attempt to stay above the fray in a troubled European market but also to advance their individual designs on global supremacy. VW vows to become the world's top automaker in the next several years, while its Audi brand also is battling with BMW and Daimler's Mercedes-Benz brand for worldwide luxury-sales leadership.
One possibility for Volkswagen is to add still more automotive brands to its existing stable of 12, CEO Martin Winterkorn said. Last year, VW completed its purchase of Porsche and added Italian motorcycle maker Ducati.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on March 15, 2013 04:43 PM
General Motors brands and Lexus were the big winners when J.D. Power & Associates announced its highly regarded annual awards for dealership-customer satisfaction based on its survey of thousands of American automotive consumers.
Three GM brands—led by GMC, and also including No. 3 Buick and No. 4 Chevrolet—placed in the top five in Power's prestigious designation. No. 2 Mini and No. 5 Volkswagen rounded out the top five. Three Chrysler Group brands—Jeep, Ram and Dodge—finished at the bottom.
In the luxury arena, Lexus once again won the day—for the fifth straight year—followed by yet another GM brand, Cadillac; Jaguar; Acura; and Infiniti. BMW and Mercedes-Benz placed below average, while Land Rover gained the most of any luxury brand from last year.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on March 6, 2013 03:24 PM
Putting a few bad years behind it, Toyota is now pivoting to create a more formidable global company to battle General Motors and Volkswagen for the pinnacle of the worldwide automotive industry over the next several years.
Chief Akio Toyoda has overhauled his top management for the second straight year, strengthening his control over the company founded by his great-grandfather. The most significant hallmark of this wave of change is that Toyoda has greatly fortified the influence that Americans will have on the company and its brands, including recruitment of a former General Motors executive to the Toyota board and the promotion of some U.S.-based Toyota veterans to greater responsibilities for the whole company.
The changes will ensure that Toyota's accelerating tilt toward the U.S. market—particularly in light of the challenges in its home market and Europe—will continue. Already the company has indicated that it plans greater investment in U.S. production for the North American vehicle market and beyond.
Posted by Dale Buss on February 26, 2013 07:22 PM
The good news for Detroit's three automakers is that Chevrolet and GMC managed to get some of their new models recommended by the influential Consumer Reports. The bad news is that just about every other brand fielded by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler is still placed near the bottom in the magazine's new rankings of the best light vehicles on the market.
Just like every year, the new rankings—listed in the April 2013 issue of Consumer Reports—finds that Japanese brands, especially those made by Toyota, continue to dominate. Toyota landed three of the top seven spots, with Lexus as CR's best overall brand as well as Toyota at No. 4 and Scion at No. 7.
Subaru and Mazda finished second and third while Acura and Honda finished fifth and sixth. Audi led its German rivals to finish No. 8, followed by Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz to round out the top 10. Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on February 22, 2013 06:33 PM
Little do the stars know, by the time it comes to Oscars night, the most important performances are on the little screen, not the big one.
During the "Super Bowl of the entertainment industry" on Sunday evening, the ABC telecast of the Oscars, Hyundai and a handful of other advertisers will be leveraging the big stage in big ways for their brands. The prospect of the largest TV audience for the Academy Awards in several years would make achieving their goals easier.
Hyundai, for instance, will be running seven commercials during the telecast—the most of any advertiser—and it has the sole automotive rights to the automotive ad category during the show. Keeping with the show biz theme, it's fitting that Hyundai's voiceover talent is, once again, its longstanding brand voice: Academy Award-winner Jeff Bridges. At a time when Hyundai continues to dimensionalize the brand along both luxury and performance lines, the Oscars are at least as important a forum for the carmaker as for any actor or director.
"We're bullish on the chances for ratings this year, with the combination of films that were critically acclaimed and that also did big box office," Steve Shannon, CMO for Hyundai of America, told brandchannel. "We just like the feel of the Oscars."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on February 20, 2013 04:14 PM
The three German luxury auto brands are like a trio of high-performance machines in an extended road race, each taking the lead for a while as they jockey for position and probe for the opportunity to make an unstoppable surge and finally blow past the competition.
These days, Audi and Mercedes-Benz are in second and third place, with BMW hanging on to a tenous lead for this year that many watchers believe it eventually could lose—at least for a while.
The most immediate factors: BMW has just announced the biggest safety recall in its history, while Audi plans a major expansion of its SUV lineup and Mercedes-Benz has announced its most ambitious new-product blitz in the brand's history. Continue reading...