V Insight 1 (Subaru)-Discussion questions

The automotive industry was a?running on emptya? in 2009 as sales plummeted. General Motors and Chrysler needed U.S. government bailouts to survive, Toyota was plagued with product recalls, the recession was in full swing necessitating a?cash for clunkersa? programs and federal sales tax incentives to stimulate the purchase of new vehicles. One notable exception in this dismal marketplace was Subaru of America.

Subaru has emotionally connected with its highly educated, environmentally conscious and outdoor enthusiast target market by providing well built, reliable vehicles that consistently win a?Car of the Yeara? awards by R.L. Polk & Company, Motor Trend, Edmunds.com, Cars.com, Kiplingeras Personal Finance, Parents magazine, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Japanas New Car Assessment Program, and other organizations.

a?Subaru will consistently build customer loyalty, create customer advocates, and strengthen brand value by providing superior purchase and ownership experiencesa? (Subaru Customer philosophy). Consider this interesting anecdote about Subaru quality. A customer with nearly 300,000 miles on his vehicle (200,000 + is not uncommon for Subarus) was unable to start his car. He contacted the service department and was asked if he had a spare key. He did, and was told to try starting the engine. It worked a apparently, the car was fine but the original key was worn out!

Subaruas recent promotional theme a?Love, Itas What Makes a Subaru a Subarua? has reinforced brand loyalty to meet the company objective of creating lifetime customers. Subaru, a niche marketer that sells about 200,000 units annually in the U.S., has one of the highest repurchase rates in the industry.

Questions to think about

1. What is unique about the Subaru customer focus that competitors are unable to match?
2. Comment on how Subaru loyalty differs from typical customer loyalty in the automotive industry?
3. How can companies in other business sectors emulate the Subaru experience and create brand advocates?

Superior Customer Value a Strategies for Winning and Keeping Customers, Third Edition, by Art Weinstein, CRC Press, 2012, ISBN: 978-1-4398-6128-8