Thursday, February 20, 2014 by
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...
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 by
It was my pleasure to be a co-presenter last night, along with
Edouard Tavernier, as 33 winners were recognized for automotive
loyalty and conquest during the Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards
presented by IHS. For those of you unfamiliar with how owner
loyalty is measured, it’s determined when a household that owns a
new vehicle returns to market and purchases or leases another new
vehicle of the same model or make. This year's Polk Loyalty
Awards recognized the best-of-the-best and winners...
Wednesday, January 8, 2014 by
The competition in the luxury part of the U.S. new vehicle industry
has perhaps never been as intense as it is right now, and, in a
related trend, new product activity in this space is as frenetic as
ever. BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz continue to vie for luxury sales
leadership with Audi and Cadillac aggressively trying to move up.
Many of the luxury makes have been expanding into new segments,
with such products as the Evoque, F-Type and CLA. There are other
examples of this trend coming...
Friday, January 3, 2014 by
Given the complexities of the global and U.S. economies, inevitably
there are going to be economic and/or industrial trends that run
counter to one another, but it seems to me that we are now
experiencing two movements that are particularly inconsistent. Last
month, The New York Times ran a story about the surge in U.S.
oil production, saying local oil output will increase by 800,000
barrels a day annually for at least the next three years (Dec. 17
page B1). Imported oil's share of total... Read...
Monday, December 16, 2013 by
I always think about the title of this post – how quickly should an
OEM phase a vehicle out? – when I analyze Chevrolet’s numbers in
Brazil, the second market for the brand just behind the U.S. Before
I get to the figures, let me give you a quick background.
Traditionally, Chevrolet had sold rebadged Opel models in Brazil:
Monza, Corsa, Zafira, Meriva, Astra, Vectra. During GM's Chapter 11
time, no investments were made in Brazil, which got Detroit's
approval of using local revenue to develop......
Friday, December 6, 2013 by
December brings to mind snow and cold, but for luxury dealers in
the U.S., this month will be the "hottest" of the year. U.S.
consumers purchase more new luxury vehicles in December than in any
other month of the year, according to monthly Polk new vehicle
registration data. This contrasts with the monthly tallies for the
non-luxury space, where March and August are the peak months.
Luxury registrations also rise in the spring, but not to the same
degree as non-luxury deliveries; rather,...
Wednesday, October 9, 2013 by
Do you have the impression that the Brazilian president meets the
CEO of an automaker daily? Lately there have been a lot of
announcements that OEMs will start – or resume – production in
Brazil. This year, Honda and Mercedes-Benz announced new plants,
while Audi stated it is coming back to Brazil and making cars
in a VW plant where it built the A3 some years ago. VW confirmed it
is finally updating the locally made Golf (currently still in its
fourth generation). Last year, BMW announced its......
Monday, September 16, 2013 by
Brazil is waving goodbye to some of its oldest vehicles. Not
because OEMs have decided to drop them or because customers were
not going to the dealer network looking for them, but because all
vehicles sold in Brazil beginning January 1, 2014 must
have ABS and airbags. And some last-longing models simply
cannot comply with the rules. That is the case of the Volkswagen
Kombi, known as the Transporter T2 in the country. Made in
Brazil for the past 56 years, it was the first vehicle assembled...
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 by
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...
Monday, September 9, 2013 by
Seeing the Signs Every new vehicle sold is a signal to OEMs that
customers want more of that type of car or truck. In essence,
customers are voting with their wallets and with business
interests ever focused on customer loyalty and customer retention,
an OEM should be seeing the market signs. National Trend: Consumers
Continue to Buy New Through the second quarter of this year
(2013 Q2), new vehicle sales are once again on the
rise in Canada. New vehicle registrations indicate that...
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 by
When car owners either trade their vehicle for a new one or add a
vehicle to their household fleet, 55-60% of them choose a vehicle
from the same corporation as their existing vehicle. But what about
car owners whose brand has been discontinued (frequently referred
to as "orphan" owners)? This is now a topical question since GM and
Ford together have recently discontinued five brands. As of April,
there were over 14.4 million orphan owners in the U.S. (including
owners of vehicles from all...Read...
Monday, July 22, 2013 by
If you follow my posts, you have read that there is not much logic
in Brazil's automotive market (if not, you can follow the link at
the bottom of the blog). Today, I will show that neighboring
Argentina faces the same problem. Argentina is struggling with
inflation. Last year, inflation was 10% according to the
government, but opposition in Congress says it was 25% – the
highest rate in South America and only behind Venezuela. The
government is known for reporting lower inflation and higher...
Tuesday, July 16, 2013 by
The "sweet spot" in the U.S. premium new vehicle market right now,
at least from a volume standpoint, is the compact crossover
category. Small luxury CUV registrations have jumped almost
four-fold over the past five years, with almost 75,000 being
delivered in the first five months of 2013. The segment's share of
industry has reached 1.15% and small luxury crossovers now account
for more than one of every 10 luxury registrations (with all
luxury crossovers together making up a third of the...Read...
Friday, July 12, 2013 by
At the brand level, the structures of the U.S. marketing and sales
operations of all the major automakers are similar with the
exception of one. The OEMs operating in the U.S. have one dominant
make accounting for at least 60% (and much higher in most cases) of
all its U.S. registrations while Chrysler's registrations are
spread more evenly across five makes (see chart below). Chrysler's
U.S. structure is the result of both acquisitions and a different
marketing strategy. Chrysler purchased...
Tuesday, June 25, 2013 by
Tax incentives were very effective in 2012 and helped
Brazil reach a new sales record of 3,573,076 light vehicles.
With this success, Brazil remained the fourth largest
automotive market in the world, just behind China, the United
States and Japan. Polk's automotive forecast does include any
changes in this ranking in 2013 when sales in Brazil are
anticipated to reach 3.63 million light vehicles. However, Brazil's
importance declines when we analyze production numbers. Last
Thursday, June 6, 2013 by
It's not always about who has the largest market share or the
broadest product line. Sometimes repeat sales for OEMs and dealers
are fruitful when you're a small player, too. Yesterday, Polk
issued a press release of customer loyalty on automakers who beat
the industry average by looking at first quarter results.
What did we find?
- Thirteen brands exceeded the average industry increase for make
loyalty when we compared buyer behavior from Q1 2012 and Q1 2013.
The first three months of the...
Monday, March 25, 2013 by
On the eve of the 2013 New York Auto Show, the media has noted the
irony that one of the largest auto shows in the country is taking
place in a location where many residents do not even own a car.
What is less frequently, if ever, mentioned in the press is the
fact that the mix of new cars purchased by New Yorkers who DO own a
vehicle is far different from the mix in the rest of the United
States. One of the most vivid differences between new vehicle
registrations in New York and the rest of...
Monday, March 11, 2013 by
Venezuela was all over the news last week because of the death of
its president, Hugo Chávez. President Chávez passed away after a
battle against cancer, which included several surgeries in Cuba.
What the international media did not pay attention is to a law
approved in January that affects the automotive industry. How would
you react if a law determined that all new vehicles from now on
should have a sticker price from the first half of 2009? Moreover,
could you, the dealer network, afford...
Friday, March 8, 2013 by
The automotive industry achieved nearly 14.5 million new vehicle
sales in 2012, which resulted in a sales improvement of 13.4%
versus 2011. There are many contributing factors to this sales
achievement. The following all played a part in the industry
- Stabilized inventory levels from the Japanese automakers
- Several new product introductions from all OEMs
- Strengthening consumer confidence in the U.S. economy and
- Lower unemployment rates
Also in 2012, we began to witness OEMs placing...
Wednesday, March 6, 2013 by
Three new cars are striving to gain ground in the huge non-luxury
small car segment. The 2013 Dodge Dart was launched last June, the
redesigned 2013 Nissan Sentra last November, and the 2014 Kia Forte
sedan arrives later this month. This segment accounted for 16% of
all new vehicle registrations in 2012, second only to the midsize
cars 17.6% among the 32 segments tracked by Polk. The non-luxury
small car segment has been dominated for years by such well-known
models as the Corolla, Civic and...Re...