This week, General Motors announced its highest profits in the automotive company's 103 year history, just two years after the company recieved a government bailout. JR Little, senior consultant for The Brand Union discusses the success of the brand and how it's managed to turn around its fortunes so quickly during such a difficult time for the sector.
General Motors’ (GM) success is partly due to the brand, but is also a result of a more conducive business environment. One which has acted as a catalyst to spearhead better quality products, competitive pricing, economies of scale and fewer brands and people to manage.
Moreover it is important to keep in mind that the US government has helped keep GM afloat, forcing the organisation to rethink its brand strategy, especially the product portfolio. And, let’s not forget that one brands bad luck is another's good luck; new brand architecture has closed the doors on less successful brands - Pontiac and Saturn in the US – which has meant fewer, better automobile manufactures operating in the market. These aforementioned points, mixed with a rise in ‘Americana’ sentiment in the US have created the perfect environment for a brand bounce back.
The US consumer has bought into the current 'buy American' and 'manufacturing pride' culture. American's want their own people and brands to do well, and this set the stage for a big American success story. So when we think of 'buy American' and ‘manufacturing pride’, unsurprisingly Chevrolet, a GM brand, does very well. It has a long history of promoting provenance in its communications; remember the Chevy ads with the strap line 'An American Revolution'?
Lastly, GM is innovating its way out of the dark days. The Volt, while not a perfect product, at least allows GM to put a firm stake in the ground; the promise of the electric car. It’s obvious that GM is committed to building better, more innovative and affordable products. This dedication resonates with people, especially Americans, which no doubt GM has sought to actively utilise to its advantage.
As for Europe, the growing speculation concerning whether it will fall into another recession is unknown. However product affordability is pertinent in the current climate and GM is neither premium nor prestige anymore. So, all these factors set the stage for GM success today and tomorrow.
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