Buick Lays Out Plans for Future of Brand
DETROIT — Already contending it's the fastest-growing brand in the country, the brain trust for General Motors' Buick division recently gathered with industry partners to shape future strategy for design, engineering, marketing and advertising.
The results of the gathering are what executives believe are keys to pushing Buick to potential buyers, which include sculpted designs, luxurious interiors, quality, premium technology and refined performance.
Executives believe consumer taste shifts toward cars and crossovers should be a continued boost to Buick. They insist Buick is now the fastest-growing major automotive brand in the United States.
At the current pace, Buick's vice president of marketing, John Schwegman, expects annual sales volume for Buick could double during the next couple of years.
"We think the best way to grow the brand is by continuing to increase the entries product-by-product," Schwegman explained.
"Our current lineup consists of the Enclave crossover, LaCrosse and Regal sedans, and within a few years we will add a compact sedan and small crossover," he continued.
Brand officials believe upcoming models should substantially expand Buick's market coverage. They pinpointed segment coverage now at 14 percent with anticipation of it climbing to 46 percent after adding new entries.
Buick conceded that no product names or exact timing details have been announced. Still, brand executives hope buyers will expect to see these new Buicks in showrooms during the next few years.
"The new product additions combined with other refreshments to the current Buick lineup will make the 2011 Regal, a new sport sedan just now arriving in dealerships this spring, the oldest vehicle in Buick's stable by 2013," officials pointed out.
To expedite that plan, the brand noted that all trim-level badges will be removed from Buick vehicles by 2012.
"No other premium brand has those designations," stated Craig Bierley, Buick marketing director, continuing that that customers are sometimes confused by the CX, CXL and CXS designations.
"This is about giving each vehicle one great look," Bierley emphasized. "Trim levels implies a hierarchy — that there's a cheap one, a middle-level one and a really, really nice one."
Bierley recently told GM officials that future models will offer packages with increasing content levels that build on each other.
Wrapping up the strategic discussion, Buick executives also mentioned they're moving away from large golf sponsorships. Instead, they want to focus more on customers and their buying experiences.
Bierley indicated that future marketing campaigns will focus more on grassroots efforts reaching consumers who are looking for luxury-level quality at a lower price.