Driving the Future. Positioning your brand to create desire in the new automotive reality

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1 Driving the Future Positioning your brand to create desire in the new automotive reality

2 In the 20th century the automobile represented self-expression at its most powerful our dreams and desires given form in sheet metal. Few possessions represented our aspirations in the way our cars did. So what s changed? The Lippincott Brand Study The data in this piece is drawn from the Lippincott Brand Study, a unique approach to measuring and evaluating brands. Now in its fourth year, this ongoing study is fielded online among 30,000 consumers across four continents. The Lippincott Brand Study quantifies leading indicators of brand success such as Story Power, Experience Power and Brand Momentum to uncover the fundamental drivers of brand and business success. Story Power measures the resonance of the brand idea in the market overall, while Experience Power measures the brand s connection with its users and customers. Sense Perspective 2

3 The global automotive industry is changing, and fast. New markets, customers, technology and competitors are forcing car-makers to take a fresh look at how they create relevance and desire. So what will it take to be a leading automotive brand in the future? Within every industry, we have found leading brands find a way of differentiating themselves through compelling stories, signature experiences, or both. Looking to the fastest-growing markets in the 21st century, cars are often still thought of as potent symbols of self-expression. They convey status, success and freedom where people still want the car they drive to make a strong personal statement. However in most developed markets, car-makers now face the challenge of delivering sustainable, flexible, economical urban mobility while simultaneously finding new ways to be exciting and desirable. Look at me... The move from ownership to usership, particularly among Generation Y, is fundamentally changing what people need and want from a car. In fact, this is probably the most significant shift the automotive industry has seen for over a century. The longing for pride of ownership, demonstrated through the mechanical and the tactile, is becoming more about the intangible and the virtual how product, service and software come together to deliver the experience beyond the vehicle. In a world where cars can interact with their environment like never before, they are becoming just one piece of a more integrated lifestyle and mobility system. From charging stations to telematics systems and in-car apps, car-makers will increasingly need to create brand experiences across new and unfamiliar touchpoints that fundamentally change the way the car fits into people s lives. Over the past decade we have also witnessed the seemingly unstoppable growth of the premium car-makers. In their attempts to wow increasingly diverse global customers, people can now drive an incredibly extensive range of vehicles from the likes of BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus: from performance SUVs to ultra-compacts, and everything in between. However this level of variety risks diluting a brand s core positioning to the point where it is pulled far away from the essence of what made it so appealing and distinctive in the first place. With markets like China rapidly catching up with the US in terms of volume, interpreting and refining the DNA that makes these brands special in a way that depends less on the product, and that sustains both authenticity and vitality will be essential for any premium brand. Sense Perspective 3

4 As we witness a new order emerging, some brands are positioned for success better than others. Consumers have a clear idea about which brands have their best days ahead, and which are remnants of the past. We call this Brand Momentum, and it is fueled by customer expectations for the future illuminating those brands that excite people most....think about me In the US and China, German premium brands are consistently seen as having the highest Brand Momentum. People recognise that these brands have relevance and desirability today, as well as ambition and aspiration for the future. However, their challenge is to better differentiate themselves from their direct competitors to be more distinctive, and emphasise their individual character and uniqueness. In China, without exception, domestic brands are in the lower half of this ratio. In many ways this is surprising, given how far these car-makers have come in a relatively short time. However, their most significant barrier to winning in China, and being competitive globally, is the need to be recognized as authentic. These brands need to have a genuine story one that gives people a reason to believe in the brand as well as the product. now need to consider how to regain relevance again, particularly in the eyes of increasingly valuable Generation Y customers. Their challenge is to better align their brand personalities to the traits that younger generations value and get excited about. The Japanese have not yet come close to the Germans in driving Brand Momentum in China. Yet as a stark contrast, in the US Japanese car-makers are not only among those brands considered to have their best days ahead, they are also leaders in customer experience. These brands understand how to deliver service that makes people feel great. Their opportunity now is to build on this foundation to create even more immersive brand experiences, while striving to match German brand cachet. In the US too, with notable exceptions such as Ford and Chevrolet, domestic brands are behind in this metric. They have failed to keep up with consumer expectations and Sense Perspective 4

5 Brand momentum - US Leading Lagging Middle of the pack 1:10 10:1 Ratio of Best days ahead : Best days behind Brand momentum - China Leading Lagging Middle of the pack 1:10 10:1 Ratio of Best days ahead : Best days behind 2 S e n s e P e r sp e c t i v e 5

6 In In the the future, which one one will will I I love? Sense Perspective 6

7 actions to prepare for the future Based on our experience of working with many of the world s leading car-makers and insights drawn from the Lippincott Brand Study research, we believe that building tomorrow s leading automotive brands 4will mean acting on four key imperatives. Sense Perspective 7

8 be distinctive... By defining the characteristics that make the brand truly unique, and why they matter to people Generally, car-makers are nearing parity in delivering quality, safety and reliability. For most mass market and premium brands, sources of product distinctiveness are becoming ever narrower as components, architectures and platforms become increasingly shared. While some variety in surface design and components of feeling can still be maintained, it will be more important than ever to protect and enhance brand and design distinctiveness to ensure people still see and feel what makes the brand unique. In the US, premium German and Japanese car-makers are seen as distinctive compared to the overall market. However, this is not the case within their own peer group. Looking at their brand personalities, we find that all index highest on similar traits. Today, none of these brands choose to express an interpretation of premium that breaks the mold or offers a distinctive and compelling point of view. Composition of brand personalities - US Premium brands in the US have a very similar personality profile Giving you freedom to explore and discover Allowing you to achieve greatness Being strong and serving as a leader Audi BMW Mercedes Lexus Infiniti For both premium leaders and up-and-coming challengers, there is a clear opportunity to move away from the premium clichés of the past and stand for something more distinctive. Now is the time to reinterpret and redefine what premium means to customers connecting to the traits that will drive excitement and desire in the future. Composition of brand personalities - China Premium brands in China have profiles linked to national provenance Allowing you to achieve greatness In China, we see a similar story to the US for premium car-makers overall, but here national provenance appears to be especially relevant as a source of distinctiveness, with Japanese and German brands seen as having quite distinct and consistent personality profiles. The Japanese personality profile indexes higher on indulgence, freedom and discovery, while the Germans are associated more with greatness and leadership. This implies there is an opportunity to build distinctiveness beyond national provenance, to build a brand personality that relies less on where the brand is from and more on why it s special. Giving you freedom to explore and discover Being strong and serving as a leader Audi BMW Mercedes Lexus Infiniti Sense Perspective 8

9 be authentic... By being true to the essence of what makes the brand special, while staying relevant and vital In the future, brands will have far less control over how they are presented to customers. This means the core brand idea needs to be powerful and coherent whether you re in Nanjing, Nuremberg or North Dakota. This core authenticity, which remains constant over time, can then be complemented by a supporting set of attributes that are varied across markets to drive vitality, excitement and freshness. Authenticity vs. Loved - China However BMW successfully tailors the supporting personality elements of the brand to different markets, while keeping its core personality consistent. By sustaining this powerfully authentic core idea that is complemented by flexible attributes, BMW ensures the personality of the brand can be nuanced effectively in response to local market needs. Story vs. Experience In China, people love the brand they find to be highly authentic BMW achieves a remarkably consistent performance across markets Industry average: Loved Experience power Experience power 220 Industry average: TRIBAL LEGENDS UNATTACHED 60 Authenticity So far, the failure of Chinese car brands to build authenticity has limited their performance at home and denied them the credibility to enter new markets. They tend not to be loved by consumers because they lack a powerful, compelling core idea for people to connect with. Building this authenticity requires the brand to express a genuine idea that is both relevant and desired; one that can be understood and experienced in a way that makes people want to invite the brand into their lives. On the flip side, for brands that have a strong core idea, the test is to ensure it can be flexed to appeal in different markets without losing authenticity. Of all the global car-makers, our study shows the one that demonstrates this principle best is BMW. By anchoring itself to a powerfully authentic core idea, the brand achieves consistently high levels of Story Power and Experience Power right across the globe. S e n s e P e r sp e c t i v e 9 STORY TELLERS Story Power Composition of brand personalities BMW flexes its supporting brand characteristics across markets Allowing you to achieve greatness Being strong and serving as a leader Sense of wonder Letting you indulge US China UK Brazil

10 be relevant... By connecting to the things people care about and by embodying the traits that people find exciting Generation Y will represent over 30% of global car buyers by 2015 and have values that are very different to previous generations. Functional factors are no longer variables, reliability is assumed and comfort is expected. They look instead to brands that align to a specific and more emotional set of needs, traits and values. Brands that are unable to create relevance in this way face the prospect of competing on an ever-narrowing set of functional factors, restricting their chances of ever creating a true emotional connection to these customers. Looking at the personality traits most aligned to the values of Generation Y, contrasting profiles emerge for many US domestic brands compared with challenger brands like Hyundai, which successfully appeals to younger audiences with a compelling mix of technology, design and value for money. We see that Hyundai indexes highly on the characteristics relevant to Generation Y, particularly around fun and challenging convention. The US domestic brands can certainly learn from the Hyundai profile having fought hard to be desired by an increasingly design and technology savvy customer. For brands such as Chrysler, Dodge, Chevrolet and GMC, becoming better aligned to Generation Y will be their greatest challenge if they are to compete successfully in the future, laying the foundations for long-term brand loyalty. Composition of brand personalities Hyundai over indexes on traits relevant to Generation Y versus US domestic brands Helping you experience a sense of wonder Helping make life more fun Letting you be who you are at heart Chrysler Dodge Chevrolet GMC Hyundai Composition of brand personalities Challenging convention VW has a differentiated personality profile between generations Helping make life more fun However, while Generation Y is too big to ignore, it is still far from being the whole market. How can you appeal to the demands of younger customers while continuing to serve the established market? VW is one brand that has successfully nuanced its personality profile across generations. Generation Y sees VW as a brand that is more about fun and wonder, while for older generations the brand appeals for being about challenging convention and being who you are at heart. This divide allows VW to target different messages at these groups through both product positioning and segmented marketing driving a remarkable breadth of brand appeal in the process. Helping you experience a sense of wonder Under 35 Over 35 Letting you be who you are at heart Challenging convention Sense Perspective 10

11 be immersive... By creating compelling, seamless experiences that deliver the brand beyond the vehicle For most automotive brands, the experience delivered beyond the car remains remarkably generic; failing to be as rich or immersive as that delivered by the vehicles themselves. Generally this results in an over-reliance on product and engineering differentiation. Excluding the premium European car-makers and looking towards the mass market in the US, it is Japanese brands such as Lexus, Toyota, Honda and Nissan that have a significant lead on US domestic brands for being loved and making customers feel great. This is a true testament to how much the service experience beyond the car counts in the minds of customers. Japanese brands are loved for being service leaders, with Lexus in particular putting quality of service at the core of its ownership experience. However, to stay at the top, service will need to become a far more powerful tool for driving brand engagement. This will need to start with dealerships becoming a significantly more powerful touchpoint, delivering immersion into the brand in the same way retail innovators such as Apple, Lego and Nespresso have achieved. The automotive leaders of tomorrow will transform their showrooms into exciting brand experiences that mix brand theatre and immersion with integrated sales and service. The digital environment is also becoming an essential and inseparable part of the automotive brand experience. In fact, telematics are already one of the key drivers of vehicle choice for younger buyers. As digital services become more connected and independent of the car, the opportunity will be to take control of new brand touchpoints that extend the entire brand experience. The challenge will be to maintain the integrity of the experience while integrating branded and third-party services in a way that represents a seamless, engaging alliance between user and brand. Value brand ranking - US Japanese brands lead domestic brands in the value market New digital ecosystem New touchpoints are becoming core to the experience This is a brand I love This brand makes me feel great RANK 1. Lexus 2. Toyota 3. Nissan RANK 1. Lexus 2. Honda 3. Toyota Economy Maximization Intelligent Route Planning Car Sharing Services 4. Chevrolet 4. Nissan Honda Ford Dodge Infiniti Infiniti Chevrolet Ford Chrysler Remote Services Traffic Management Chrysler GMC Dodge GMC Congestion Avoidance Public Transport Integration American brands Japanese brands Sense Perspective 11

12 Driving the future In the new automotive reality, a renewed focus on brand building will be key to being both relevant and desired. Being distinctive will protect brands from the need to compete on increasingly narrow functional and performance differences Being authentic will give brands the consistent foundation from which to adapt credibly to multiple geographic and demographic markets Being relevant will allow brands to sustain excitement and loyalty across different customer groups, driving long-term brand advocacy Being immersive will stretch the brand into new propositions, value-added services and emerging parts of the mobility value chain As you think about how to align your brand effectively to this new reality, the path to success begins with a realistic appraisal of your current position and future aspirations. Questions to ask: Are you able to discover and then harness your most powerful, differentiated sources of brand distinctiveness? Do you know which traits are most relevant, both now and in the future? Are you able to define and express an authentic brand idea that combines a powerful, compelling core with the adaptability and agility to flex across markets? Is your brand able to connect with Generation Y customers in a way that makes them excited to invite your brand into their lives? Are you able to flex your brand to appeal across generations? Can you translate your brand into experiences beyond the vehicle, embracing new and emerging physical and digital environments? About Lippincott Lippincott is a leading brand strategy and design firm. We uniquely combine business-based strategic thinking and creative excellence to solve the most complex challenges facing corporations today. As pioneers of corporate identity 70 years ago, we have been behind some of the world s most iconic brands and partner with today s leaders as they shape their brands for the future. author Dylan Stuart Partner, Brand Strategy Lippincott, a division of Oliver Wyman, Inc. NEW YORK BOSTON SAN FRANCISCO LONDON PARIS HONG KONG SÃO PAULO TOKYO

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