I realised I might have a problem after the following exchange happened last week:
“I’m not buying a Kia!” I say to a colleague.
“Why ever not? They’re good you know,” he replies.
And yet I just don’t believe him. He protests that the proof is in the pudding – I need to try one and I will be won over. I’m sure I will be, however, there’s something about owning the brand ‘Kia’ that seems to jar in my head. I worry I’d be embarrassed by the key in my pocket and the badge on the steering wheel. I won’t buy a Kia because I think it will be an unreliable car, but because the brand just doesn’t have as much gravitas I would like. And I know I’m not alone after talking to friends and family about it (they are anyone’s best focus group, after all).
It’s not just automotive manufacturers such as Kia that suffer from brand snobbery. Think about it – do you buy McVitie’s chocolate digestives, or Tesco Value? Does it have to be Heinz, or can you do with Morrison’s own brand ketchup? Through a careful mixture of advertising, PR, sponsorship, promotions and direct marketing (the marketing communications mix), established brands plant seeds of trust and good reputation in our minds, and often we can’t overcome these when the new boys such as Kia or the own brands come along and try to attract us with their lure of lower prices. If anything, the extra cost of a more reputable brand further indicates better value in our minds.
So how can relatively ‘new’ (in the minds of consumers) automotive brands position themselves? Embrace the power of thrift. We see in the fashion world that shoppers love a bargain, and more and more I find people replying to a compliment with ‘it was only £10! from…” Some consumers are proud to be seen saving money, and why shouldn’t the same apply to larger purchases such as a car? I’m not for a moment doubting the quality of a brand new Kia Picanto, so why not make light of the fact that is an absolute bargain? Whilst there’s an argument that they might not want to devalue their brand, but is there anything wrong as being viewed as a good value brand for money-conscious consumers?