Buick Needs A Sport Coupe
by, 02-27-2012 at 09:00 AM (2589 Views)
February 27, 2012
By: Nick Saporito
Earlier today I zoned out thinking about Buick. When you think about it, Buick's brand positioning is a bit muddled as of today. They have everything from a compact sedan to an eight-seat crossover, and a four-cylinder large sedan to the Regal GS. Really, the bandwidth of Buick is getting rather broad, but I don't think that is a big issue for them. Instead, I think they need to broaden it a bit more...with a sport coupe.
My thoughts on Buick tend to defy much of the industry. I personally think Buick has a lot of potential to pick up Gen Y (Millennial) buyers. This generation typically favors premium and defies mainstream, has incredibly fragmented tastes and loves a comeback brand. Buick, oddly, fits that mold remarkably well. Gen Y has also typically been very open-minded to brands, something that certainly cannot be said for their parent's generation.
Of course, at the moment Gen Y probably lacks the purchasing parity to support the Buick brand in North America. However when economic conditions rebound, there will be a vast number of Millennials entering professional careers to put their college degree to work. Young professionals...this is a demographic Buick has tapped before, no?
With Gen Y's historical need for reward and encouragement, they're quite likely to run out and make some form of large purchase to compensate for the years of economic suffering in the Great Recession. Watching their parents' generation slave away at work with minimal proportions and an overall lukewarm quality of life for middle class has also skewed Gen Y to expect more. Again, seems like a great match for Buick.
So why a coupe?
Well, Buick needs an attention getter. A vehicle that will fundamentally surprise consumers. I think the Regal GS has done some of this, but overall Buick has largely kept the car too quiet and what marketing the car has had, was far too timid. Buick's whole "your kind of luxury" theme with their marketing is good, but why can't that theme expand to performance? What if my kind of luxury is performance? It makes me wonder if Cadillac isn't ****-blocking Buick at the product decision table in RenCen.
I hate to use the word "halo vehicle" but that is sort of what I'm getting at here. I'm a believer that more often than not, halo vehicles are useless from a marketing perspective (see: Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky, etc.). That said, I think Buick is a unique case. The brand was irrelevant for so long that it needs something simply to make consumers look twice; specifically Gen Y consumers.
My Buick coupe:
- Alpha Platform (RWD and AWD)
- 2.0-liter turbo and 6-speed manual standard
- 2.0-liter turbo with eAssist and 8-speed auto optional
- 3.6-liter V6 with eAssist and 8-speed auto optional
- Dramatic design with lots of influence from Riviera Concept (China)
- Base price of $30,000
- Market it to young, career-focused college grads
Granted, I don't work for GM, but I can tell you from an insider's perspective that the above configuration is feasible. GM is seriously considering a Chevrolet (Code 130R Concept) on the Alpha platform that starts at about $20,000. In other words: there is no reason Buick can't have an Alpha coupe that starts at $30,000. GM is also going to need more volume out of the Alpha chassis anyway, so here is their chance.
And for the record, I'm not trying to foreshadow anything with the above. That is simply what I would like to see happen at Buick. There are rumblings of a coupe at Buick, but there is NOTHING solid on the product plans for one.
What do you guys thing?