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.

The Tribune (NZ) - - MOTORING - David Lin­klater re­ports.

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."

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