The target doesn’t exist anymore in the automotive

Target   It seems simple, as in a textbook : given the BRAND MODEL of a X segment, it will always exist:

  • A first target, the owner of the same segment;
  • A second target: climbers (from smaller segments or neomotorized) and downshifters (target neglected in the Italian Automotive culture) coming from bigger segments.

The target is always been the centre around which the supporting job to the marketing research. A rigid, methodical context, almost indisputable: the textbook. Perhaps the manual (written by whom?) omits that:

  • Segments are no more so rigid (in almost each of them several versions coexist with very different characteristics and prices);
  • (Especially) Market and user– with the complicity of maturity, crisis, distractive actions etc. – may evolve taking different paths from the theoretical visions of the enterprise.

It’s a long time that I have the reasonable suspicion that the target – as considered in a manual definition of the company – tends to no longer exist, or should be reasonably reinterpreted and updated.

The problem is that the Company doesn’t want to take note about this reality: lengthy discussions and proposals by the consultant (me, for example) normally carry on the payer side, that is the company in itself (the customer is always right). A pity for those who, as an advisor, seek to provide experiences and “visions” coming from an “upstream vision” –that is what actually happens in the market.

These data are more useful than the infamous handbook information and unfortunately represent lost opportunities for the Company.

I’m going to tell you a story about a “subject-target” who I interviewed about the interest on the purchase and placement of an X-Over of medium-large size, succumbing reluctantly to the definition of the target according to the Company.

This subject is been defined ( according to the schemes described above) as indisputable customer of the vehicle they were working on: he has that certain socio-economic and cultural profile and owns a SW 4×4 bought 36months ago. Well, since the first exchange of views, it was clear to me how incorrect the words “indisputable” and “target” were to frame the subject.

His guidelines for the next car weren’t , in fact, focused on the theoretical vision by the company, but on a real and composite vision difficult to understand in full: the intelligent and open-minded target-person simply orients himself through a logic – result of our time- not aligned with the textbook.
In short he was looking for:

  1. The exact same vehicle BUT ONLY if business car or Km zero (to limit his budget and, at the same time, not to receive “surprise” in purchasing );
  2. Big off-road vehicle (with gasoline engine to be converted in LPG) secondhand (a purchase partly due to emotional reasons and partly to utility because to the frequency of white roads);
  3. A new hybrid SW 4×2 available thanks to incentives (urban mobility target);
  4. Two smaller vehicles with 4 and 2 wheel drive (the goal is the satisfaction of the renewal of the family car fleet with the same budget)

The X-Over mentioned above was definitively off-target. We could justify the story because the schizophrenia of the subject, like to say that he is a unique case, like the “whitefly” . But no! The problem is that from my observation on the field this “deconstruction” of the customer is becoming more frequent and obvious. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be worthy of consideration. Arise questions:

  • How will the Company work to the placement (price, communication etc)with partial absence of data?
  • Who is really the target of this X-Over?
  • Why do you insist on watching the same side of the coin (paying consultants that you won’t listen to suggestions)?

But above all: okay the manual, power, knowledge and the Company…but when are we going to take a look at the reality? Say the wise: “if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you will arrive where you had already been“…the current situation of the automotive market deserves a reflection.

Translated by Federica Izzo

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