Dave Leggett | 21 May 2007
Jeremy Clarkson has a bit of form on tearing into Vauxhalls - especially the Vectra. I wonder what Vauxhall's marketing people made of his treatment of the Vauxhall Corsa VXR in The Sunday Times this week? He actually liked the car, but he spent much of his time reflecting on how out of touch the car and the brand is, in his opinion, these days. Just a bit unfair I thought - the Astra is deservedly lauded as an excellent car - but his take is interesting in terms of the case for the prosecution on how the Vauxhall brand is perceived by many in Britain. Indeed, he finishes with some observations that ought to provoke a bit of discussion in the marketing department at Ford GB also.
The big idea for GM in Europe is to make Chevrolet the value brand and move Opel/Vauxhall into slightly more upscale territory. Easier said than done. It means aligning brand values and product to send a clear message to the market. The current Astra was certainly a big step forward.
This is what Vauxhall Chairman (and GME sales and marketing director) Jonathan Browning said when I asked him last summer about the positioning of Vauxhall in relation to Chevrolet:
"Chevrolet will be our foundation brand but the danger is that if you talk about 'upscale' for Vauxhall it can be interpreted as moving up the price ladder and up the competitive hierarchy. We're not looking to do that. What we are looking to do is to position Vauxhall and Opel amongst a more progressive customer segment. It is a segment that is looking for a combination of great appeal from a design point of view, very functional vehicles, but also vehicles with some key technological content.
For example, the adaptive forward lighting on the Corsa is a segment first. Those sort of added technological elements are very important to that customer group. Whereas for Chevrolet, it's similar sized vehicles at lower price points and not that same level of technological content. The technology for Chevrolet is much more proven, well-established technology as opposed to first-in-segment technology that we will look to bring in on Vauxhall and Opel."
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