Holden wants to lose ‘Dad brand’ name
Holden NZ admits its image has to go from kitsch to cool to really succeed with its new-generation models.
Holden is undergoing major change in its model ranges. Last year, the Aussie brand announced that it would launch 24 new models by 2020, sourced from General Motors (GM) markets all around the world.
That’s because it’s going to be much less of an Aussie brand after October 2017, when domestic manufacturing operations for Commodore and Cruze close down for good.
Holden New Zealand (HNZ) has been an importer-only for years, or course. But the demise of Aussie manufacturing does still present a problem for the Kiwi operation, in trying to re-establish the Holden name as something more than a purveyor of large and rather traditional rear-drive sedans in the public consciousness. After all, Commodore is still HNZ’s most important passenger car.
HNZ general manager of marketing Marnie Samphier has narrowed the problem down to a single phrase: while most people are affectionate
The new Astra is typical of the hi-tech European product available to Holden. It’ll arrive here in November.
about the Holden name, young people see it as "a car brand for my Dad".
That’s the in-a-nutshell wisdom reached after a major research project undertaken by HNZ over the last two years.
"We realised that with the introduction of a lot of new product and nameplates, it was really important that we had broad and wide acceptance," says Samphier.
"We regularly track how the brand is doing and we’d found over several years that it didn’t really matter what messages we put out there or how innovative our marketing was, the tracking [or how people perceive the brand] remained the same. We weren’t going backwards, but we certainly weren’t getting ahead."
Hence HNZ’s research project, which covered all kinds of car buyers, from absolute Holden loyalists to those who had completely rejected the brand.
"What we found was no real surprise," says Samphier. "People had a genuine love and affection for Holden, but they felt it was a brand for somebody else, not for them. Younger people in particular told us ’it’s a brand for my Dad’. It validated what we’d thought all along.
"Our researchers told us they had never seen such a consistent response from such a broad range of people."
Samphier says HNZ’s mission over the next three years is to eliminate that "subconscious rejection" of the brand as it introduces new models.
"Some great stuff came up and we don’t want to lose that," says Samphier. "Things like performance, a Kiwi character - even though it’s an Australian brand, we do really identify with it here.
"But we want to turn those aspects around. So in terms of performance, it’s not all about V8s and rear-drive, it’s more about the excitement of the drive. In terms of that Kiwi connection, it’s less about Kiwiana and more about the progressive aspects of NZ culture."