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Unformatted text preview: for example. Toyota designed both
models, and the differences in their components and trim are minor. Both
vehicles receive high marks from Consumer Reports, and comparably
equipped midrange models have similar price tags. Yet the Prizm requires
up to $750 more in buyer incentives to support its sales. Even so, only onequarter as many Prizms are sold, and their trade-in value depreciates much
more quickly (Exhibit 1). Toyota’s name on the Corolla attracts customers,
while the Prizm is lost among the offerings on a Chevy dealer’s lot.
What accounts for such preferences? Marketers have long understood that
consumers are inﬂuenced by the emotional connections they form with
products—and with manufacturers, dealers, and other owners. Our study1
conﬁrms the idea that consumers attach signiﬁcantly greater importance to
relationship and emotional beneﬁts than to a car’s functional attributes, at
least when they meet minimum standards or don’t fall far short of the competition’s. Nevertheless, those intangible beneﬁts are the weakest links in the
automakers’ performance ratings. Companies that act on all of the elements
of brand affiliation—that is, the emotional relationship, the purchase process, and product attributes—build an advantage that competitors ﬁnd hard
To tap these wellsprings of brand attachment, the auto industry must move
from traditional product-based marketing to a conscious and organized
brand-based strategy. Once, the product was the brand (think of the Ford
Model T or of Volkswagen’s original Beetle). Today, companies must position
each car within the entire suite of products that bear a given nameplate and
understand consumer likes and dislikes so deeply that these tastes shape
everything from the car’s design to its ﬁrst appearance in an ad to the service
department’s after-sales performance. Every consumer touch point represents
both an opportunity and a danger. Making the most of all touch points can
reinforce an already powerful brand, help build an obscure or struggling
brand, and limit the harm from a damaged one. An objective assessment of
the opportunities and dangers at every touch point is also the basis of an efficient allocation of spending.
1 A proprietary survey of 1,277 auto consumers who owned, among them, 4...
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- Spring '12