It wasn’t by accident that Honda picked its Odyssey minivan for the kickoff TV advertisement under its new “Start Something Special” positioning this week. The new version of the van has some nifty features, and the nameplate has some continuing appeal, adding up to the possibility that pundits have written off the American minivan segment of the auto market way too quickly.
Honda sold nearly 80,000 Odysseys in the US market for the year to date through July, up by more than 8 percent—an important sign that the segment, and perhaps especially the Honda Odyssey, still has some life left in it. Sales have indeed declined over the last several years, and the minivan long has been left for moribund by observers who’ve noted that soccer moms largely have moved on to some form of SUV.
But Honda executives see the opportunity to gain share in a segment that, after the shakeout of some volume, remains important. “It’s a segment that has taken its best shot, that’s for sure,” Tom Peyton, assistant vice president of national advertising for American Honda, told brandchannel.[more]
“If you add three kids to a household, a minivan or a minivan-type vehicle becomes almost a necessity. The good news for us is that people generally, when they get in our van, they love it. We’ll often sell two to three per household before the family moves out of the van stage.”
The new TV ads surely will generate more affection for, and curiosity about, Odyssey. Employing animated “spokescrumbs” voiced by Rainn Wilson of The Office and Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), the spots show off the capability of the HondaVAC, an integrated vacuum cleaner in the top-end Odyssey that helps parents clean up after all those kids Peyton mentioned. It’s an industry-first feature.
Plus Odyssey has been redesigned overall for 2014. And that advancement has brought the model another important attribute that can be effectively marketed to the family target for minivans. The vehicle received the top rating on a stringent new crash test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, making it the only minivan to win the respected institute’s Top Safety Pick+ honors.
The new test rates vehicles on how well they withstand a crash simulating what happens when the left front corner of a vehicle strikes an object such as an oncoming car, tree or pole, according to Automotive News. Honda has strengthened Odyssey’s frame and added more robust airbags.
Even the spokescrumbs must be pleased at that.