Buick looks to attract younger buyers

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by t1h, Jan 11, 2007.

  1. t1h

    t1h Guest

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07011/753052-28.stm


    Buick looks to attract younger buyers

    Thursday, January 11, 2007
    By Gina Chon and Jennifer Saranow, The Wall Street Journal

    The average Buick buyer is a man in his mid-60s -- not the type of consumer inclined to trick out his car with 22-inch wheels, a lowered suspension and tinted windows. So why was a Buick Lucerne with just those modifications on display at a party hosted by General Motors Corp. last weekend that also featured actress Vivica Fox, known for roles in such movies as "Booty Call" and "Soul Food," and hip-hop star Jay-Z?

    The answer is simple math. For 2006, sales of GM's Buick were down by almost 15 percent compared with 2005, according to Autodata Corp. Now, the brand is trying to expand its appeal among young, urban consumers -- deemed essential if it's going to help reverse GM's flagging fortunes and build sustainable sales.

    "The idea is that the urban market sets the trend for the mainstream market," says Heather Waszczenko, Buick's national advertising manager.

    With that in mind, Buick is re-examining its advertising and studying car-customization trends. So far, that has brought about the brand's first major appearance at a large car aftermarket show -- the venue for the customizers to show off their souped-up vehicles -- in Las Vegas; a pilot marketing program in Atlanta featuring billboards, Lucernes displayed outside nightclubs and radio spots; and bigger wheels for Buick models.

    Buick is not alone in trying to court a younger, urban buyer. Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln and Volvo luxury lines, and Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus are among the other automobile brands that traditionally appeal to a more mature demographic and have recently been looking for younger buyers.

    Such attempts to speak to a younger and more urban audience carry risks: They could alienate the brands' longtime older customers, who remain comfortable with their car's sedate and respectable image.

    And if the companies try too hard and don't have a clear idea of who they are trying to reach, they could alienate consumers of all stripes. Buick says it's too early to tell whether its new efforts will work but says more car customizers are asking for Buicks to soup up for shows and other events.

    Buick first realized its brand's potential among young African-Americans early last year when Dub, an urban custom-car-culture magazine, asked for a Buick Lucerne that it could customize for events.

    Around the same time, Buick's product manager for the Lucerne started hearing about "scraypers" -- or "scrapers" -- a style of customized car developed by young African-Americans in the Oakland, Calif., area. Buick models from the 1980s and '90s are popular in the genre, outfitted with wheels so big that the tires scrape the inside of the car's fender, according to some definitions of how the genre got its name.

    To learn more about what Buick can do to appeal to the young, urban and mostly black men who hold so much sway over popular tastes these days, Buick hosted an "Urban Media Roundtable" in Atlanta last June, bringing together about a dozen journalists, most of them African-American, from publications from hip-hop magazine XXL to luxury lifestyle Web site eCityofStyle.com. The goal was "trying to understand the pacemakers and what they think is hot," says David Darovitz, Buick's manager of communications, as well as figure out how to market new Buicks to them.

    Buick has already started implementing a number of suggestions from the gathering, but the discussion also showed the disconnect between the brand and its target audience that could hinder Buick's turnaround and possibly turn off some customers.

    Ken Panton, the 42-year-old president of eCityofStyle.com and a Buick roundtable participant, said the brand's idea of "urban" -- a young black teen listening to Run DMC -- seemed a bit old-fashioned.

    Today, he says, "there is a new definition of urban," embracing upper-middle-class white kids wearing Lacoste shirts and Sean John jeans.

    During the discussion, Marcus Amick, who writes about cars for the mostly African-American readership of the Michigan Chronicle and other publications, said Buick and its GM brethren rely too heavily on celebrities to reach younger consumers.

    The discussion turned to hip-hop star Ludacris, who moonlights as a pitchman for GM's Pontiac Solstice convertible.

    Kimatni Rawlins, the 33-year-old publisher of AutomotiveRhythms.com, a Web site devoted to the "urban automotive experience," piped up: "There is no way you can convince me that Ludacris is driving a Solstice."

    "He definitely owns one," shot back Larry Woodard, whose urban advertising firm, Vigilante, developed the Ludacris campaign.

    "He owns it because it was probably part of his sponsorship deal," countered Mr. Rawlins. (A spokesman for the entertainer confirms he owns a Solstice as part of his deal with Pontiac. )

    Buick's Mr. Darovitz eventually steered the conversation back to Buick. "If there was one celebrity you would align with Buick, who would that be?" Tiger Woods, the panelists chimed in together. Some rolled their eyes.

    "Tiger Woods is nice, he's a very successful golfer, but he doesn't necessarily resonate with people in the urban center," said Greg Morrison, 57, a free-lance journalist formerly with the Black Family Channel.

    Mr. Morrison had the impression that Buick was lumping all black and Hispanic people together in a narrow definition of urban. "We play golf, we have memberships to country clubs and nice homes," he says. Still, he gives Buick points for trying. "It's a learning curve. The best analogy I can give you is trying to teach George Bush the Bankhead bounce," referring to a hip-hop dance named for the Atlanta neighborhood where it originated.

    A month after its urban roundtable, Buick hosted an "immersion day" in Atlanta, organized by Vigilante, where Buick marketing executives and dealers listened to a panel of urban-lifestyle experts from music, fashion and other industries.

    One of the first tests of Buick's new strategy came in November at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas, the largest car customization and accessory show in the U.S. As the hip-hop-hybrid music of violin-playing duo Nuttin' But Stringz played to the crowd, Buick lifted the veil on 11 Lucernes tricked out by 10 customizers and Rides magazine.

    The cars were styled with "black cherry" paint, lowered suspensions, 22-inch wheels, souped-up sound systems, suicide doors (paired side doors that open away from each other) and alligator-leather upholstery.
    One of these customized vehicles is on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

    "I always thought of Buick as an older name, but now they are doing what we're also doing. We're infusing two worlds -- hip-hop and classical," says Tourie Escobar, 20, who with his brother Damien, 19, constitute Nuttin' But Stringz.

    As part of a pilot marketing campaign, Buick is also parking Lucerne sedans outside nightclubs, movie premieres, concerts, barber shops and other venues in Atlanta where trendsetters are known to gather. Print, bus and billboard ads in Atlanta show Lucernes with an African-American male model wearing urban-inspired fashions. Radio spots for the Lucerne air on jazz, gospel and adult contemporary stations.

    Having learned that the urban set pays attention to features like wheels and grilles, the company is shooting stock photos for future car models that emphasize these features.

    A press kit that will be available in May for the new Enclave crossover vehicle, which was unveiled late last fall by longtime Buick endorser Tiger Woods in Los Angeles, contains such photos that emphasize "aggressive angles" and the new 20-inch wheels available as an accessory, the largest wheels ever available from Buick.

    "We have found a newfound interest in Buick among a certain community, and the Lucerne especially," says Steve Shannon, the brand's general manager. "And we think we can capitalize on it."






    :rofl: this is destined to fail
     
  2. sparq

    sparq New Member

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    how about offering cars in colors other then maroon, black, silver and sky blue?
     
  3. Mugatu

    Mugatu Ask me about market research. OT Supporter

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    You are not TriShield.
     
  4. tonyk

    tonyk New Member

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    i've always liked regals :o

    not even the cool ones, but the 97+ ones
     
  5. TRN

    TRN Well-Known Member

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    They should of started thinking about this years ago.
     
  6. BoogieKnight

    BoogieKnight Active Member

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    Caddy is already going after that younger, upwardly mobile demographic. Buick should just /itself in the US. It's a maker of geezer pleaser. It sells more cars in China than it does here. Who here under the age of 50 drives a Buick (that wasn't given to them by their parents or grandparents and I am also not talking about a turbo Grand National either)?
     
  7. Chase

    Chase Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, you're cool, fuck yo

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    didn't the 3.1 v6 GM that powers pretty much all buicks win some sort of award?
     
  8. GrassHopper

    GrassHopper Happiest motherf***er you're EVER gonna meet OT Supporter

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    Some charity BS for knocked-up teen
    My first car was an 86 Buick Regal. :hs:

    It was pimp enough, but it's not a young people car.
     
  9. t1h

    t1h Guest

    well i just think its amusing, they are pushing their cars to young urban blacks. who statistically, usually do not have a job or money to buy a new car. so i think this advertising campaign is destined to fail.
     
  10. kawsakimx6

    kawsakimx6 OT Supporter

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    Rockin Like Dokkin...
    Id pimp id
     
  11. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Enclave will attract younger buyers, the rest of the lineup not so much.
     
  12. if they want younger customers then import this from China

    [​IMG]
     
  13. pixel804

    pixel804 yabba dabba do

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    i actually like the way the Lucerne looks :dunno:
     
  14. tonyk

    tonyk New Member

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    rehost this :o
     
  15. guest

    guest 

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    An old man at work told me to buy a new Buick LaSabre and I'm 23 :rofl:
     
  16. fixed
     
  17. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I bought one when I was 19, best car I've ever owned. I still have it too.
     
  18. guest

    guest 

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  19. shadowoperative

    shadowoperative Rawest asian alive, so raw they call me sashimi.

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    attract younger boys wtf?

    oh wait younger buyers ok...
     
  20. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I would pimp a used one. The late 90s Regals are going for around 5k in good shape now.
     
  21. I'd rock a Century Wagon
     
  22. guest

    guest 

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    I would't mind a Buick Roadmaster station wagon :naughty:
     
  23. spofoman

    spofoman Active Member

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    buick wants all the niggaz ridin their twanked out bubbles fo sho
     
  24. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    It is a terrible driver's car, but it's comfy and has never needed a repair. It's dirt cheap to own too. It also keeps my GTO nice as it did my GN. :o
     
  25. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I would buy this Buick.

    [​IMG]
     

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