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Interesting article on new GM marketing chief....

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_38/b3900118.htm

Part of the article:
LaNeve needs to find a logical market niche for each brand to pursue. There, GM has set some ambitious targets. It wants to make Buick a low-priced alternative to Toyota's posh Lexus brand. And Pontiac is to be aimed at buyers who yearn for the performance of a BMW without the hit to the wallet. New cars such as this fall's G6 midsize car and next year's sexy Solstice two-seater will feature tight handling and fast engines to sell the idea. Saturn is moving closer to Honda and Volkswagen, with Euro styling and expensive-looking interiors. "Except for Cadillac, Chevy Truck, and Hummer, all those brands want to be seen differently by consumers than they are today, and that is a lot of change to engineer," says Dan Gorrell of San Diego consultant Strategic Vision.

The toughest part will be getting import shoppers to even take a look. Buick's buyers today are mostly GM loyalists. The same goes for Pontiac, though it has among the youngest buyers of any domestic brand. Saturn's image lures import shoppers, but its best new vehicles are a couple of years away. The vestige of goodwill for Caddy LaNeve had in his old job is in short supply at these other brands. "None has the positive publicity and word of mouth of Cadillac," says analyst Tom Libby of Power Information Network LLC.
 

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Marketing is important, but the cars need to speak for themselves at some point. He does have his work cut out for him now with this product line up. Unfortunately I would have to say that the Solstice is one of only a few bright spots.

I'm not sure how much marketing has to do with future products and styling, but if he had anything to do with the current Cadillac styling, and that is representitive of the future at GM, then you can count me out. The latest offerings at Cadillac may be selling well now, but I think their styling will last about as long as bell bottom jeans. GM needs to get beyond gimmics and get back to leadership in design and value. Do this and the 29% marketshare is a reality.
 

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Your right, GM’s products do need to speak for themselves.

He may have done a good job with Cadillac, but the CTS spoke for itself. The car dynamically is very good. The interior could be a little better, but its not bad. The 3.6L Dohc engine is a real gem. Out in back to back comparisons, it does compare very well to the leaders in its class. In this situation, marketing only had to draw attention to what was a winning product. The rest of GM is another story.

He wants Buick to be a lower cost option for Lexus hopefuls? Then Buicks better start resembling Lexus’s cars in refinement, driving experience, reliability, and interior quality. Once Buick’s cars drive, ride, feel, and look like a competitor to Lexus, then marketing can come in and sell it as a Lexus alternative. Right now there cars don’t match up at all to Lexus, and their SUV’s don’t match up to Lexus, and anybody who shops both brands will immediately see thru GM’s marketing speak on these cars.

Same with Pontiac. If they seriously want them to be a lower cost option to BMW buyers, then their cars must perform on a close level with BMW’s. They need to have exemplary fit and finish, refined and powerful engines, great handling and reflexes, appealing interiors. Most of these things have long since been absent in most of Pontiac’s lineup. They can do powerful engines, the Northstar V8 in the Bonneville, the upcoming 3.9L VVT OHV motor. However, there cars usually fall short everywhere else.

Saturn is so far from competing with anyone its not funny. A Honda competitor? HAHA. Good luck. A competitor to VW? That’s not as hard, as VW is not a big market share winner anyway, and their quality problems of late seem to be well known now. However, if you look at a VW Jetta and an Ion back to back, there is going to be little question about which car looks like it is built better.

Its not going to matter who is running their marketing. Without big improvements to their product line, all these divisions will simply keep competing with Chevy, Ford, Dodge and Chrysler for the shrinking number run of the mill buyers of domestic cars.
 
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