California Autos Examiner

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Buick Wants to Win Younger Buyers (Duh!)

Automotive News/Autoweek is running a piece on Buick's new marketing director, Brian Bowden. Mr. Bowden states that he wants to attract younger buyers by offering more exciting vehicles. Certainly vehicles such at the forthcoming Enclave will help, but is it enough? Bowden makes reference to the fact that when Buick introduced trucks into the lineup a few years ago, they saw a significant drop--almost 10 to 15 years on average—in the age of the Buick buyer. Bowden then goes on to mention that Buick’s current average customer age is 65. So…Does that mean that before trucks the average age was 75-80? Probably not, but the article sure makes it seems that way.

Bowden mentions the "Tiger Wins - You Could Win" promotion, something that was covered by All Cars back in January (don’t forget that the latest entry deadline is May 7). However, is Tiger really going to help pull in the younger buyers? It may be true that the promotion has notched up a lot of website hits, but will those browsers will be converted to buyers? I have to admit that I’m highly skeptical. My family has a lot of history with the Buick brand, but I have to say I’d probably be one of the last to buy a Buick. The designs are getting better, but the scent of mothballs permeates the brand. In fact it’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where I would buy a Buick. The car would have to be exclusive to the brand and be so irresistibly styled that I would be willing to suffer the torment my co-workers and friends would unleash upon me (I’m envisioning a walker left by my desk). For example, what if the Pontiac Solstice was only offered as a Buick? Would that be enough? Maybe. But I’d be tempted to remove all badges off the car. I remember when Oldsmobile first offered the Aurora? There were no Oldsmobile badges anywhere to be found! Olds plan was to first launch the Aurora and only once they had turned things around add in the badges. Well, the Aurora, arguably an excellent car for its day, only lasted two generations before the whole brand was killed off. You could make the argument that Olds was really starting to turn the corner in its last days, but it wasn’t enough. This leads me to my final question. Do Brian and Buick have enough?

Autoweek article is here.

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