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And The Fastest-Growing Car Brand Is...Buick?

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2011 Buick Regal

2011 Buick Regal

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Look, we all miss Pontiac. Saturn, too. A few even miss Saab. (Fewer miss HUMMER.) But although General Motors' bankruptcy and brand sale may have been painful for fans, it's begun to pay off for the automaker and its remaining marques -- especially Buick.

Not so long ago, Buick was on the skids, with flagging sales and a consumer base that averaged 72 years of age. Only funeral parlors and dinner theatres have that kind of target demographic. GM brought in Tiger Woods to liven up things, conveniently overlooking the fact that golf watchers are some of the oldest sports fans around.

Then GM restructured and narrowed its focus. Four brands were cut, but Buick remained in the fold. We're sure some lobbied to keep Pontiac instead, but cooler heads prevailed: sure, we all love a performance ride, but luxury (or mid-luxury) touches drive more customers into showrooms. And besides, Buick was taking off elsewhere in the world -- why let that go?

Today, Buick is one of the most popular brands in China, and thanks to the revamped, relaunched Regal sedan, it's making waves on this side of the Pacific, too. Just last Friday, we highlighted a new campaign featuring honest reactions from unsuspecting Regal test-drivers, and not long before that, a series of parties Buick threw to introduce younger trendsetters to the model. Buick also launched its Moment of Truth campaign, centered around a stunning, CoolIris-like interface and real quotes about Buick -- both good and bad -- pulled from across the social web. It's a brave move for Buick, one that promotes a sense that the brand is finally listening to consumers.

It's those kinds of promotional efforts that have helped buoy Buick over the past few months. Between the Regal, Lacrosse, Lucerne, and Enclave, Buick sold 137% more units in July 2010 than July 2009, and it's up 60% for the year. Given last year's economic free-fall, those figures may not mean too much -- heck, anything would be an improvement over 2009 -- but Buick's rate of growth is still outpacing its competitors.

According to GM's vice president of marketing, Joel Ewanick, Buick's next hurdles are (1) building a brand brief to ground the company's marketing efforts and (2) putting designers in dialogue with dealers, helping Buick build and market cars consumers want. Number one sounds easy enough, but number two could be dicey: "You give [dealers] a good product, they can sell it. That's what they've been asking for for years. We are going to see design and marketing work together. I don't know why it's never been done like that before." Of course, better communication between designers and dealers probably means a more informed sales staff and thus, higher sales. We just hope it doesn't lead to cars designed by committee.

[AdAge via Jeff]

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Comments (6)
  1. Saab isn't dead buddy. Has been owned by Spyker for quite some time. Good article but way to stay in the loop. Unless you're referring to people missing Saab being under the GM umbrella. In which case, that's likely very very few people.
     
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  2. @Carfan: Yes, I was. And I think it's very, very, very few.
     
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  3. Hey Richard,
    You know I never thought of why Tiger would endorse Buick but, It makes sense about a senior audience watching golf..None the less, I have always been a big fan of Buick (rent a car wise) very roomy and with a touch of elegance.. Way to go Buick for being in the fold.
     
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  4. What's the matter with you? Aren't you supposed to know about cars? Saab has escaped GM and left the Trollblazer and Saabaru behind and is under new ownership ... Spyker (exotic cars of The Netherlands).
     
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  5. What's the matter with you? Aren't you supposed to know about cars? Saab has escaped GM and left the Trollblazer and Saabaru behind and is under new ownership ... Spyker (exotic cars of The Netherlands).
     
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  6. Tiger endorses Buick because his family always drove Buicks. And Tiger can hardly be considered an icon of the senior crowd. An the average age of Buick owners was 68 , not 72. Nor will I ever consider a Lacrosse
    over my 2004 Buick Regal GS : it's too slow, too expensive and not good looking enough. "Edgy" stands for ugly in my book. And the 68 year olds are consumers too, or have you assumed they are just as
    good as in the ground? Such arrogance and shallow thinking we get from the younger media these days. The National Enquirer actally has more credibility than the NY Times these days.
     
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