Wednesday, December 23

RIP, Saab

Another one bites the dust.

Saab announced this week that the brand is going to fade away, like several other car brands this 18 months. Not sure if many of you remember, but there was a day when Saab was the "it" car. I was living in Boston right after college and it seemed like everybody had a Saab. And to have the Saab convertible was the end all be all. And then came BMW....

It's sad, actually. Partly because I hate to see good brands go away and because I'm sure it means that many many people have lost jobs as a result. But it's also sad because I think it could have been avoided with better marketing. Specifically a better understanding of what consumers want in a car.

It's easy to blame the disappearance of Saab on the economy. With joblessness at an all time high, luxury cars are, well, a luxury. The economy is a bit of a scapegoat here, though, because I think with better marketing that this car brand (and many others) could be alive and kicking.

Look at Ford and Suburu. Ford has downsized its line (and it's cars AND it's fuel in take AND it's cost structure), and spends the most of any carmaker on social media marketing initiatives. Seems like they have a better understanding of its consumer.

And Suburu has been known for years as really listening to consumers, loading their cars with features, and providing great customer service.

The auto industry in general, and Saab specifically since it's in the spotlight here, has simply not caught up. The industry hasn't listened to consumers and it hasn't given them what they need. The brands are not connecting with consumers in their marketing programs, helping them to live a better life.

Do we need to see one more television commercial of a car speeding along a windy California road. Or listen to one more "winter sales event"? C'mon, connect with me! Please.

I know that I personally need a new car. I have a 7 (yes 7) year old Land Rover Discovery with 149,000 miles on it (yes, 149,000 miles). I need a new car. But I am so dis-interested. There's nothing out there that excites me, that speaks to me, or that I want to incorporate into my life. It's ridiculous, actually.

That's not good marketing. And I'm afraid that Saab is paying for it now.

What's your experience? Jim.


  1. im:
    Sad to see but inevitable. Do you remember touring Bucks County with us in my wife's '87 9000 Turbo? You declared it 'the lap of luxury' (a copy writer even as an APD!). Unfortunately, that car cost me 50% of its purchase price in repairs. Something I discovered many years later: the mechanicals were based on a Fiat!. Product did suffer under GM ownership (I leased a 2000 9-5 Aero and returned the car 8 months early). But SAAB would have died out 10-15 years ago had GM not made the investment to build the brand ("Find Your Own Road") even with lackluster product!
    Jeff C

  2. I remember that day like it was yesterday ... it sold me on coming to J&J! Wow. Thanks for the great insight on this post! Jim