Automotive Industry Challenges

Are Brands Important?

In “Twilight of the Brands” in the February 17/24 issue of “The New Yorker,” James Surowiecki  discusses the challenges facing brands in today’s information-rich U.S. economy. Surowiecki focuses on Lululemon Athletica, a yoga apparel company that quickly became the darling of the industry and then tumbled almost overnight because of negative customer feedback. Such instantaneous customer reaction can propel a company to new heights or spell its doom in the blink of an eye, according to...Read...
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Which Vehicles Topped Google's Search in Brazil?

When Google released its Zeitgeist 2013, a compilation of the most googled terms of the year, the Hyundai HB20 reached the top spot for the Brazilian automotive industry. It was followed by the Chevrolet Onix and Chevrolet Prisma. The new Volkswagen Golf and the Volkswagen Beetle (locally called Fusca) rounded out the Top 5. The HB20 hatchback, the Onix and the Fusca were launched late in 2012. There is no doubt the HB20 has written its success story in Brazil’s automotive history. With 3,312......
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Making Global Product Management Easier for the Automotive Aftermarket Industry

For those of you like me who have been in the automotive aftermarket industry for a number of years, you understand the common challenge that all of us have been facing for over a decade – how do you determine if parts being sold in the U.S. or Europe have applications that can generate revenue in other parts of the world? And how do you identify vehicles that are more likely to have the same components as those on the road in different countries? I've never found these questions to be easy...
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August 2013: A Terrific Automotive Sales Month, Particularly for the Japanese

August U.S. new car and light truck sales were not merely good — they were extraordinary. Consider the following:
  • U.S. customers purchased 1,503,151 new cars and light trucks in August, the highest monthly volume since May 2007
  • This August total converts to an annual rate (SAAR) of 16.1 million, the highest monthly SAAR since November 2007
  • The August year-over-year increase of 17% was the highest monthly change since June 2012
  • Every manufacturer enjoyed a sales increase in August
  • August Ford...
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Toyota Lessons Not To Follow

As Toyota announced it has regained the global sales crown, it makes me think of how the Japanese OEM has wasted its chances in the world's fourth largest market. Not everyone is aware that Toyota opened its first factory outside of Japan within Brazil in 1959, a plant that is currently used to produce parts. For decades, the Brazilian market was closed to imports and Toyota only produced a version of its Land Cruiser. It was a great product for rural areas, but Toyota was far behind its...Read...
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Main Markets in South America Face Protectionism Wave

South America is a very diverse continent. Brazil, its main country, forbids diesel passenger cars and speaks Portuguese, but is surrounded by Spanish speaking countries. French Guiana still belongs to France, something not very common nowadays. Consumer behavior is also different: Toyota, for example, is the market leader in Peru and has a higher share in the countries closer to the Pacific Ocean, while customer loyalty in Brazil and Argentina goes toward brands from Europe and the United...Read...
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Autos in 2013 and Beyond - Industry Trends to Watch

Many of you may be returning to work this week after an extended vacation around the holiday season. Welcome back! I'll keep this blog short and informative. It's 2013 and the world didn't end last month as the Mayans (supposedly) predicted. Given this, we can officially remove Mayan prognosticators from the category of a legitimate forecasting entity. However, Polk has a few predictions. They go something like this: 
  1. New auto sales for 2013 will jump 6.6 percent over last year. Our U.S....
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Threats to Upsell Opportunities in the Automotive Aftermarket

I rely on some form of a "mileage countdown" system when tracking the time to change the oil in my car. Whether it's an electronic display on my dashboard or a sticker in the upper lefthand corner of my windshield, I'm regularly comparing my current mileage against the target that commands a visit to my local lube/oil shop. Unfortunately, it's kind of like waiting for your alarm clock to hit the magical point when the buzzer goes off early in the morning. You know it's coming, but you really...Re...
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The Accord: The Heart and Soul of Honda

It's difficult to overstate the importance of the Accord to the Honda franchise. The Accord is to Honda as the F-Series is to Ford, the Caravan is to Dodge, and the 3-Series is to BMW. The Accord is the heart and soul of Honda. Launched in 1976, the Accord has been at or near the top of the midsize sedan segment ever since. There are 11 million on the road. Car & Driver magazine has named the Accord one of the Ten Best Cars some 26 times, more than any other vehicle. Mr. Takuji Yamada,...
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Asian Automotive Advertising Excellence Celebrated at 3AF Marketing Summit

The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas served as host to the 3AF (Asian American Advertising Federation) The 2012 Annual Asian Marketing Summit on May 16-17. The goal of the annual summit was to share marketing best practices and celebrate the leaders in Asian marketing. With Asian Americans representing one out of every 20 new vehicles purchased in the U.S., it's easy to see why automotive market leaders including Toyota, Honda and Nissan were well represented at the conference.
  • Nissan-Admerasia...
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Congratulations 2012 Polk Inventory Efficiency Award Winners!

It was my pleasure to co-present the Polk Inventory Efficiency Awards last night at the Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS) along with my colleague, Mark Seng. We honored two outstanding aftermarket companies for their process improvements relative to inventory and supply chain efficiency. This year’s Inventory Efficiency Awards competition was one of the closest yet. Over the past eight years, we’ve recognized some truly great companies that have created outstanding results for...
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The Automotive Zero Moment of Truth

There is no denying the fact that the internet has changed the shopping process for consumers as they're influenced by online search, display advertising, social media and online reviews to more easily make buying decisions about the brands, companies and products they want to purchase. This has always been the case in the automotive world; people often went to the library to pick up an issue of Consumer Reports to check out what kind of car they should buy before schlepping to multiple...Read...
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"Heels & Wheels" Puts Women in the Driver’s Seat

My business associate, Marc Bland, has provided insightful blogs on the female automotive market over the last several months. During the holiday break, I came across coverage of this topic that peaked my interest. I was intrigued by the first annual two day "2011 Heels & Wheels" event in beautiful Palm Springs, CA. It is a gathering of female automotive bloggers, engineers, journalists and other automotive professionals who get together to discuss subject matter and issues as they relate to...Re...
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Automotive News World Congress 2012 Recap

For the second straight year, I had the opportunity to attend the Automotive News World Congress. This event provides attendees with an opportunity to hear the current state of the automotive industry and opinions on the future from some of the most respected leaders across the industry. This year's event was no exception and one thing was clear, the U.S. auto industry is refreshed and revitalized. Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance spoke about the importance of... Read...
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Women-Focused Auto Sales and Service - A Growth Opportunity

While reading the Detroit News recently, I came across the following article: "Women-Focused Auto Shop a Reaction to Disdainful Mechanics." The article confirmed that at least some portion of the industry can see the growing impact women are having on the automotive industry and are not only just taking note, but are actually taking action to support this growing market. The article focuses on Mae de la Calzada, who opened LadyParts Auto Services, a full service auto shop in Redwood City, CA....R...
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Looking at the Hyundai/Kia Juggernaut

The Hyundai and Kia makes compete fiercely with each other in the U.S., and partially for this reason, their performances are rarely combined into one corporate result. But the two makes are part of the same company, (the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group) and when their U.S. results are combined, the numbers are astounding. New registrations for both brands are up to 27.5% through the first nine months of 2011, almost three times the industry increase of 10.5%.The combined Hyundai/Kia U.S. volume...
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Are Automotive Sales Trends Dictated by Your Waistline?

Okay, this article "Analysts Say Americans are Too Fat to Buy Small Cars in Big Numbers" is sad and humorous in my view. It's an assessment of how misaligned OEMs may be with building or selling cars and trucks for the American population which seems to be growing in personal girth. While I'm saddened by Americans' obesity statistics that reveal adverse "growth rates," I have to question the implied correlation of overweight humans and the dislike for small cars. One does not trigger the...
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Industry Unpredictability: The New Black

In the business of automotive information, we use vehicle registrations along with numerous other data sources to look at things such as the automotive forecast, automotive aftermarket opportunities, model and make loyalty, and overall general buyer behavior through custom consumer research. All of these efforts require a thorough understanding of the automotive industry, the world economy, current events, consumer preferences, and so many other influences. The "other" category is where the...Rea...
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Live From New York...Be a Nissan Auto Show Reporter

The automotive industry has taken to social media very well in the past 12-18 months. Campaigns such as the much heralded Fiesta Movement, the Chevy South by Southwest (SXSW) Road Trip Challenge and the Ram re-brand strategy I wrote about last year have helped engage brand enthusiasts while making fans out of non-loyalists. Nissan is looking to generate loyalty within their own cutomer base via their Be an Auto Show Reporter user-generated content campaign.The contestant must make a 30 second...
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Customer Loyalty Comes from the Heart and Mind

I love it when other professionals support a similar point of view. Take a look at Liz Glagowski's post on automotive loyalty. Liz, a member of 1to1 Media was kind enough to notice our loyalty awards from last month. More importantly, she takes note of how "loyalty" is NOT only based on repurchase behavior, despite that's what our awards are primarily based upon. So Liz, I concur! People need to have a personal affinity - an emotional link to a brand. And when it comes to cars, boy do we...
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