Is America beginning to see the swan song of the all-American pickup truck? According to some reports, luxury cars are beginning to not only gain ground, but to surpass pickup trucks as the American vehicle of choice. But, not just luxury cars… FOREIGN luxury cars. Drivers are choosing BMWs, Audis, and other foreign luxury makes in record numbers. Even the stalwart Ford F150 is beginning to lose ground. Yes, truck sales are up (again), but Ronn Torossian says that doesn’t mean US automakers should not be paying attention.
Any time a brand holds market supremacy for an extended period of time, there is a tendency to get complacent. This complacency offers new market players an opportunity to sneak in and gain market share. In this case, it may be that Ford, content in its supremacy over other American automakers after coming out ahead of the auto industry issues a few years back, was not anticipating encroachment from European automakers. Sure, Honda and Toyota continue to lead in the midsize car market, but pickups are so inherently American, it may have seemed inconceivable that they might slip in popularity.
On the plus side for Ford, Chevy, and Dodge, they figured this out fairly quickly and acted even faster. Consider the recent barrage of truck-centered advertising from the Big Three U.S. brands. It began at the Super Bowl and hasn’t stopped since. And, one thing each of these promotions has in common? They are tied to story. The American farmer. The American builder. The stalwart patriarch. The all-American guy, tough and strong and independent. Each of these archetypes resonates deeply with the target demographic, an excellent strategy for engaging in strength.
The “strong sell” formula is an important aspect of this strategy. When losing ground to a competitor, you cannot afford to look desperate or frustrated. The best strategy is to come back at them with a powerful, compelling story your fans will love and want to talk about. A comprehensive strategic PR Campaign would be the best course of action for these automakers.