The automotive industry is still getting hit hard by the recession. Many things are changing. That’s very tough for one of the most conservative industries, automotive. In Holland you can see that because of the recession the new colors that are picked for cars are more on the safe side. We see black, white, silver/grey. At the same time the industry knows it has to reinvent itself.
Agencies receive briefings with facts like “people do not buy cars online”. The next day BMW announces that outlets will be shut down and that a lot of the sales will be dealt with online. Interesting development, to say the least.
Cars are no longer just built for shape and beauty. More and more their design gets determined by tax regulations, green ideas from governments and some people, different ideas about mobility and more of such reasons that were not en vogue ten years ago. The Darwin principle is becoming also clearer in the industry. It is not the biggest or strongest that will win. The fastest moving one, the one who can most quickly adjust to new requirements and conditions will be the winner. Ask GM how that works, if they would have been quicker and more agile, Detroit would still be an industrious city.
Does this all mean that we can keep doing things as we always used to do, or should we understand that we have to play a different game? Pretty sure that a lot of the rules that were valid ten years ago, and maybe twenty years ago as well, are no longer valid. We need brands with balls. The one who has the shortest turn around time between chance and launch, will be victorious. Chances can be anything that makes a consumer decide to buy a car at a specific moment. Think the latest tax laws, the newest trends, adaptability with the latest communication tools and what not more. In the modern world, a lot of governments do change their taxations for cars annually, and when we are using Facebook and iphone today to communicate, what do we use next year? Think H&M goes into cars. They would do it way differently. They would feel the market and see what will be hot next month. They then design it, and get it produced in the countries that allow them to keep cost price right for the mass market and they launch it. I believe people will think about their cars in a similar way, more and more.
Not sure if the following was done for the same reason. But at least, it’s remarkable to see that just changing a color for an executive car can create a buzz. When you read the traditional car journalism, the conservative approach cannot be escaped. There are so many rules, and so many convictions that you need to adhere to, that it can be scary to make a different sound. Toyota has now launched the idea that a C-level car will be released in a bright pink color. That can be bought only in Japan. I have visited this wonderful country several times. They’re not afraid of bold statements in design and are very refined when it comes to design and fashion. But their cars all looked a lot like lunch boxes in very safe colors. And their taxi drivers were very service oriented, wearing white gloves and following strict patterns. So the fact that a top manager would be driving in a pink car, is pretty awesome. You need to have balls, just to play with the idea of launching in the most unexpected color for managers: pink. Hello Kitty is everywhere in Japan, but now she will finally make it to board level.
I’m not sure if this will be a bestseller in Japan. But one thing is amazing. Just selling your serious car in a the color pink, is enough to create buzz and to make people aware of your brand. It’s just a color. At the same time, it shows how conservative we have become when it comes to our expectations. A car for a manager should be black or grey, or dark. Maybe red, if it’s a sports car. But hey, that says more about us than we might want to acknowledge. Are you a forward brand, ready for the future? Or are you the next Detroit brand, that avoids change as much as possible. Who will win?
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