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Acura Eyes Sales Record


2007 Acura RDX by Marty Padgett (6/12/2006)
An "urban running back" that’s not too far out of the pocket.

 

Acura is gunning for another sales record this year as it continues to expand with new products, new marketing, and a focus on cutting-edge technology.

John Mendel, vice president of operations for Honda in the U.S. , noted that Acura has now set sales records for the past three years and expects sales to top 200,000 units again this year.

 

“We’re on our way to another record,” he said.

 

Honda also is preparing to launch the Acura brand outside the U.S. for the first time. It will introduce the brand in China this fall and then launch it in Japan in 2008 as part of an effort to establish Acura as a global brand, he said.

Survey data collected from American consumers shows that Acura’s image is steadily improving to the point where it is considered as one of BMW’s closest competitors in the sporty-youthful segment of the market, Mendel said. Consideration of Acura among luxury buyers also is going up steadily, he added. Acura has the lowest average age, 43, among all the key brands competing for attention in the luxury segment. With an average of 44, BMW and Audi are next, Honda officials said.

The new RDX crossover vehicle Acura will roll out this summer fits perfectly with the direction in which Acura is moving, he added. The RDX is aimed specifically at hip, young urban buyers who don’t really need an off-road vehicle but want an efficient, versatile, and stylish vehicle with features such as real-time traffic and technology such as all-wheel drive, he added.

 

The sales projection for the RDX are about 13,000 units this year and 40,000 for the full calendar year in what has become one of the most rapidly growing segments of the new vehicle market. Many of the buyers of the RDX are expected to come right out of the small-car segment, noted William Walton, a senior planner in Acura product planning.

Despite its unibody construction, Honda plans to market the RDX as a sport-utility vehicle, Walton said. Pricing has not been released yet but will be between $32,000 and $38,000, which is well below the targeted competitor, the BMW X3, he added.

Mendel said that the specific RDX advertising campaign is slated to start in early August. It was specifically designed to look beyond traditional media in an effort to break through the clutter that makes it difficult to launch a new vehicle. “Our target audience is looking for new ways to utilize the media,” Mendel said.

Thus, the campaign will feature downloadable viral ads, such as image tagging that allows user to download images on their cell phone and e-mail the images into special contest Acura is sponsoring. Once the images are forwarded via cell phone, Acura also will send back a mini-brochure. Acura also will take sponsorship of podcasting on NPR for a time this summer, Mendel said.

The RDX also will show up on the Jumbotron in Times Square, in e-mail blasts to targeted audience, and on various Web microsites Acura plans to create for the launch, as well as ESPN’s programming and on shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live that attract a young male audience.

Mendel, however, also acknowledged that the RDX is likely to attract Baby Boomers who are interested in downsizing but also in maintaining a youthful edge.

 

 
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