Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Limitless Limited Editions

Yes, it is a competitive market, margins are thin, customers are hard to come by, a few players dominate ruthlessly and all that jazz. But what exactly tells GM that 'Limited Editions' are the way to go?

GM and Ford are the manufacturers most guilty of churning out unlimited limited editions for their (perhaps slow-moving) models. At various points during its lifecycle, I recollect having seen the Optra in its various avatars - Royale, Elite, Max, Platinum. At one point of time, if my memory does not fail me, there were two limited edition Optras on sale at the same time :)

Ford is equally guilty of burdening customers with an endless array of 'Anniversary Editions'. The story goes back to the good ole days of the Ford Escort. I was still a teenager in shorts and an 'Anniversary Edition' with plasticky wood on the dash instead of cheap plastic baffled me even then. More so now. Fresh in my mind is the thoroughly tacky job that they did with the Fiesta 1.6 - the go-faster 'Le Mans Stripes' across the length of the car, et al. Ha-ah!

The charm (and efficacy) of a 'Limited Edition' (lets just call them LEs for convenience sake) is derived directly out of its exclusivity and desirability. In that case, LEs must ideally be born out of events of some significance, rather than at the whims of over-worked (and overtly desperate) marketing professional. Obviously, a little too much is a little too bad. Which means that a little more thought must go into designing an LE.

Ford and GM are (for now, at least) making it look like a simple job. Slap a commemorative (commemorating the first anniversary of the CEO's wife, for instance) plate and add a dash of jazz (tacky will do just as well, thank you). That's 'Slapdash', just in case.

I wonder why Honda is not doing LE Accords with cream leather instead of black and shiny alloy wheels instead of the factory-equipped ones. Perhaps because they sell enough units without resorting to these tactics?

So why does GM launch an LE Optra every month? Perhaps because it can't sell enough Optras otherwise? Essentially then, GM is trying to be pushy with a product that is not as good as its competition.

Most of those men who are spending Rs 8 lac on a brand new car are smarter than you and I would like to believe, Mr General Sir. Get that fact stamped in your mind, and we'd be doing far bigger numbers without changing the colour of the trim from 'Ebony Black' to 'Mahogany Brown'.

2 comments:

Ankit Jain said...

Nice blog. Good to see your dedication for the automobile industry and cars. Its a rarety that someone finds his career aspirations in exact resonance with his passion.

marlborocountry said...

GM and Ford continue to give services and products like GMC sierra parts for car industry.