Sunday, January 01, 2006

As most know, GM is in trouble... they can't sell enough cars at high enough prices to pay for all of their high-priced labor and to cover their promises to their retirees. Rather than declare bankruptcy and restructure, GM management continues to insist that they can grow their way out of trouble. They figure that their new models - such as their new Chevy Yukon - will be such big sellers that good times are just around the corner.

One common characteristic of any big seller - car or otherwise - is that the product must satisfy a need of the audience. The need can be practical in nature, it can be an emotional, it can be a need that only the buyer recognizes... but people don't buy things they don't think they need... and unless they think they need the car, they won't buy it.

The second characteristic of a big seller is that the marketing for the product has to reinforce the idea that the product satifies the need of the audience. If a car is being sold on the basis of its sex appeal, the marketing can't be full of fat ugly women.

And this is where GM fails, at least with the marketing for their new Yukon. The commercials (at least the ones running during the NFL games today) show kids being left at the driveway of people driving other SUVs, while the household with the Yukon are all fit inside. This commercial is supposed to emphasize the Yukon being able to fit as many as 9 people.

But families don't buy SUVs because they need to fit 9 people inside... so a commercial that focuses on this is not going to register with the majority of people looking to buy an SUV. People buy the supersized SUVs like the Yukon because they want to carry a lot of junk along with the 2-4 kids they have.

Yes, the Yukon has room for nine... but except for the rare family with 7 kids or the family that wants to buy a car that fits nine for the two or three times a year they have to run 7 kids to buy ice cream, most families aren't thinking that their SUV just doesn't have enough seats.

And if people aren't sitting around thinking they need a car with room for nine, a commercial that pushes the 9 seats is just wasted airtime.

With marketing like this, it won't be long before management is declaring bankruptcy... not necessarily because their products suck, but because their marketing does.