Buick tries to avoid Oldsmobile's fate

Buick's marketers are caught between a rock and a hard place, or more accurately between the aging baby boomers of its core market and the younger Gen-Y buyers it needs to grow the brand. With the average Buick owner nearing retirement age, brand managers are trying to play both sides of the fence, making the OnStar Directions and Connections service (a favorite of older buyers that don't like complex nav systems) standard for all 2007 models, while readying a fleet of tricked-out Lucerne sedans for the upcoming youth-oriented Specialty Equipment Marketers Association trade show in Las Vegas.
The trick for Buick is to keep its core market happy while attracting new, younger buyers - avoiding the fate of the Oldsmobile brand, whose "Not your father's Oldsmobile" campaign alienated the AARP segment while bland models failed to attract new customers. Falling market share eventually led to the demise of the famous brand.

So how's Buick doing? Well, the average age of a Buick owner is 63 (compared to 58 for Cadillac), and sales are down 17 percent so far this year while General Motors as a whole is down only 11 percent. We'll see if the SEMA initiative lights a fire under the tuner crowd, but the upcoming Enclave certainly looks well-positioned to grab a significant share of the luxury crossover segment.

[Source: BrandWeek]

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