GM Looks to MTV Taste-Makers to Move Young Buyers to Chevy Cars
Staid General looks to add a bit of prepackaged youth culture from those who do it best.
That's the question General Motors is looking to answer about the 18- to 24-year-old group. A recent University of Michigan study showed that a near majority in countries including the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Norway and South Korea would choose Internet access over car ownership. To help tackle the puzzle, GM has turned to a company called Scratch, part of Viacom's creative strategy unit, to help it better connect with the younger consumers.
Yes, in other words, GM has turned to (Viacom-owned) MTV to try to bottle the same magic that brings shows such as "Bully Beatdown" and "The Jersey Shore" into the global teen- and young-adult consciousness. Writer Amy Chozick, in a New York Times story exploring the relationship, calls it "a major shift from the days when the car stood at the center of youth culture and wheels served as the ultimate gateway to freedom and independence."
It's a daunting task, considering that not a single automotive badge ranked in the top 10 of "favorite brands" among 3,000 Millenials surveyed by Scratch. Instead, companies such as Apple and Google were most often cited. Scratch's advice goes both far and deep. It developed a five-year plan, mostly revolving around the Chevrolet brand, shortly after the 2008 bankruptcy, and looks to effect change from GM personnel to corporate culture to interior and exterior color choices and how dealers interact with younger buyers. But what could be most interesting is how willing GM seems to listen. From the article:
On a recent Tuesday morning in the General Motors Technical Center, which was designed by Eero Saarinen, a couple of car executives huddled around a “persona board” in the color and trim laboratory.
They studied a collage loaded with images of hip products like headphones created by Dr. Dre, a tablet computer and a chunky watch. The board inspired new Chevrolet colors, like “techno pink,” “lemonade” and “denim,” aimed at “a 23-year-old who shops at H&M and Target and listens to Wale with Beats headphones,” said Rebecca Waldmeir, a color and trim designer for Chevrolet. This rainbow of youthful hues will be available on the Spark this summer.
One of the hardest tasks will be aligning fickle and short-live consumer tastes with a long-entrenched automotive culture that also requires long-term R&D and roll-out schedules for new vehicles. But at least GM is trying -- and not overcompensating on the young-and-hip front with a dash-mounted flower vase.
Over the years, I have gone from thinking pickups were cool when I was a little kid, to DeLoreans, to Muscle cars (Dodge Charger was my favorite), to Japanese cars, to rear wheel drive cars, to motorcycles, to rotaries.That is because a Dodge Charger is cool (who does not love "General Lee"?); DeLorean is such an awesome car, that I would almost break my own rule of no gasoline vehicles and get one; Japanese cars are still the best (except for the garbage Japanese companies sell in this country); and real wheel drive cars are where the fun is at. And the wankel, well... Wankel engine will always have a special place in a lot of people's memories, including my own.
station wagon: mommy fodder.Heheh, not the kind I drive, I assure you!
Besides, a "modern" American woman wants to parade herself in a minivan ("look at me, I got married and have a family, yaaayyy!") or an SUV ("look at me, I managed to get married and my husband has money, I am SO important even though I do not do anything and have no career, yaaayyy!") These women will not touch a station wagon. A station wagon is considered "a man car" (actual citation), too aggressive, too low, too "not SUV". I had women who were completely dumbfounded (almost all of them) that I would want a station wagon and would not compromise on driving anything else!
Currently, I am forced to drive a station wagon, and the sooner I get it out of it the better. I can't stand the thing and if I can't get out of it by the end of the year I am going to loose my mind.Was it not you who wrote you had a Honda FiT? If so, I can definitely feel with you and understand where you are coming from. I do not even think of that as a station wagon, a Honda FiT is a small city car. One of those "zip-zips". Which is not to say that it is bad, just not what one would expect, and more importantly demand (read: styling, luxury, performance) out of a station wagon.
Payback for bland and boring cars is finally starting to come back with a vengeance.
When I was younger, we used to argue over who got to drive everyone else around because we WANTED to drive. More often then not, we would each end up driving ourselves wherever we went (six different cars for six different people going to the same place).
Now, most kids under the age of 20 DON'T WANT to drive. They actually get into arguments over who gets stuck driving everyone else around. No one wants to drive because they want to focus on texting or playing games on their phone. To them, driving is a chore
Actually, I kind of like wagons too. When I was a kid I spent alot of time behind the wheel of my dad's '87 Chevy Celebrity (Eurosport, even!) wagon, and I have to say I didn't hate it. Plenty of room for friends inside, I could toss my mountainbike in the back, and with the 2.8L V6 it was still pretty good on gas...27mpg or so.
At the same time, a friend had a late mid 80's Peugot 505 wagon. That thing was a beast...RWD with a ltd. slip diff, we used to take it offroad and it was a blast in the snow. And that thing could take a beating. Lots of fun was had in that car.
Now as an adult I drool over Dodge Magnum and Merc AMG wagons, and my ideal vehicle to replace my '97 Grand Cherokee would be a '05-'07 Volvo Cross Country wagon. I have to pass on those though, as I can't find one with low miles for a decent price, and also that the fuel economy isn't that great.. Yes, I wish I could get one with a diesel.
And classic wagons are also very cool. I love wagons from the 50's and 60's, they make great hot rods/ cruise night cars. Especially with modern powertrans, such as LSX. And I think a Duramax powered 60's Chevelle wagon would be killer.
It's a daunting task, considering that not a single automotive badge ranked in the top 10 of "favorite brands" among 3,000 Millenials surveyed by Scratch. Instead, companies such as Apple and Google were most often cited.Payback for bland and boring cars is finally starting to come back with a vengeance.
Your lack of innovation astounds me. Back in 2009, I was trying to find a car like the Volvo 850 that was made in America. There is no such thing made by either GM or Chrysler. I bought a MINI Cooper instead. Even MINI is innovating and changing to meet its customers' demands: they didn't have station wagons or fuel efficient SUVs but they do now.
Oh, and I did NOT support any government efforts to bail you guys out. You're not worth saving. If another rival came along and made decent cars that people wanted, I'd run to them first.
I have to say, when I was 18 I think a station wagon was the last thing I wanted.We must be from diametrically opposed backgrounds then. When I was 19 I wanted a station wagon but could not afford one, drooled over them for years, and eventually at 23, after finishing university and working for a while could finally afford and obtained one (hatchback) first chance I got. My first several cars were all sedans, most of them rear wheel drive coupes, too. I have never at any time wanted a minivan, nor will I ever buy one; I would rather pedal a bicycle or walk.
Yeha, the kids are rebelling because they can't all have 5 speed diesel station wagons, haha!
The point is that generation Y harbors no feelings for any of the vehicles which are available on our market these days. The cars are bland and boring, and GM is starting to realize bland and boring does not work.
For the record, I will have you know that after riding with me in those SIX SPEED manual diesel station wagons, I have had generation Y kids go from "cars? Meh." to "WOW! Really!?! It can do all that?!? That was so much fun!!! When are we doing this again?"
There are plenty of exciting cars out there, the problem is that they are out of reach financially for the vast majority of 18-24 year olds. Everyone WANTS a new Camaro, Mustang, WRX, EVO, STi, etc....but unfortunately can't afford one.My turn: there is nothing exciting about a gasoline engine sedan. Everybody and their brother has one for sale, and they are all the same thing. Think about it: nobody has innovated anything in that space in the last 20 years. Anybody can slap a gasoline engine with a turbo into anything, and they pretty much do, and that makes them all more of the same. That is all one can ever get around here.
However, let us assume that you are correct, and all your points valid: if everybody wants those cars, AND they are squarely aimed at 18-24 year audience, but are not affordable, what is the point of pricing them out of reach for their intended audience?
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