Originally Posted by FujativeOCR
Exactly. I think "Beyond" missed my point. Of course the Firebirds underpinnings were exactly the same as a Camaro. But if it was in a showroom as a "Firebird by Cheverolet", it wouldnt sell. It has to be a Pontiac to succeed.
Don't agree; instead I think you missed my point. It's summer, I'm bored; let's get into this.
I cannot see why "it has to be a Pontiac," since a) the Firebird was already " by GM/Chevy, and b) a lot of people knew that. Which affected sales from the getgo. Seems to me that you and Phil are assuming most/all consumers are a) American, and b) remarkably ignorant about what they're buying, so they just go for brand name.
I see it differently: IMO there are two cohorts of consumers, and the most significant one from a marketing perspective doesn't care so much about brands, emblems, and showrooms. Let's call them Definers: They pay attention to what's under the hood, not just how it's branded or consolidated. They discover edgy new products. They essentially create the public perception of the brand. Marketers consider them vital, since without their buzz, the larger second group, call them Lemmings, won't show up. And by the time they do, the Definers may have moved on, taking the buzz with them. Followers will only stick with a brand for a while after the cache leaves. Volkl is a prime example, but to stay with cars and showrooms:
In the early 60's California defined a lot of what was hot for the U.S. under 25 years of age, even if they lived in Kansas: surfing and cars, soon after those, hallucinogens. The east contributed Motown and cars. Europe kicked in with British music and various nationality sports cars. Get the common theme? I lived through the GTO, and the Chevelle SS, and the Firebird, and MGB's and Porsche 356's and all the rest. Most people who bought any American performance car initially did so for the mechnicals, the performance buzz, not the name. (There was no name; The GTO was the first dedicated muscle car, with suspension, timing, drive train, everything, rather than a family sedan with a big block engine, like the Impala SS. Before the GTO you talked about engines, not brands or hood ornaments. Thus "My 409," flip side of Surfing Safari, Beach Boys,1962, or serious chops for the Olds 442, just because of the engine.)
Within months of its release in 1964, every gearhead kid in the western U.S. knew the details of the GTO, and if they couldn't afford the car, they bought car magazines and Ronnie and the Daytona's "LIttle GTO," which hit #1 within a few months after the car came out. I bring up music to show that the car buzz is viral, promotes broad consumption patterns, but also has a short lifespan, based on performance, not brand.
Now there's a reason that the hero of "XXX" wanted a 64 GTO convertible and the car thief said it would be the hardest to find on his list. Aficionados consider it cooler, and more ground breaking, than any other muscle or pony car. GTO's were never close to being the fastest, and they were based on the A frame that was common to all midsize GM's, but they were the most audacious, right down to stealing a Ferrari name, and they introduced us to the idea that a performance car could be bought from the dealer, rather than built in the local shop. Unlike the 409 or 442, the GTO was a complete package.
The Firebird was just the opposite, Pontiac's belated (1967) and underpowered (300 hp) pony car response to the Mustang. It had a Camero chassis and even sheet metal, a few GTO style touches at the front and rear, mundane (but in-house) engine, normal suspension bits. The Firebird didn't attract Definers until the Trans Am was introduced in 69, and even then sold a grand total of 2,100 units in 1971. Long after the muscle car era was killed by the oil embargo, Trans Am sales were bumped modestly by Lemmings on identification (like the Screaming Chicken model) with non-public racing versions. Not on its own performance. GM settled that by ordaining that no model could produce more hp/lb than the Corvette. By the time the followers were buying the Firebird in the late 70's it was no longer even remotely cutting edge. Think about the Smokey and the Bandit model, 1977; it sold a bunch, and it did the quarter in 16+ seconds. Roughly the same as a VW Golf. Truth. By the early 80's the Firebird was toast.
So yeah, Lemmings will notice emblems and paint schemes more than actual performance. If they know about performance, it's from Time. They might not buy a Veyron by VW, even if they have the $ and watched Top Gear, because Definers have issues with it. But no such issues with Ferarri. Would sales fall off if the Prancing Horse had a "Fiat" under it? Yes, but not catastrophically. If you have the chops and $ to buy a Ferarri, you know, as I said in the last post, that Ferarri makes its own cars, top to bottom. Bugatti is just an old name owned and produced by VW for purposes of owning the speed records. Definers know that, too.
Definers start the process of disclosure, too. After 1982, no Pontiac ever had its own engine. GM used the basic Chevy blocks for all its brands, and emphasized efficiency except in the Corvette. So consolidation occurred 28 years ago, at least, in the sense that all Pontiacs, Olds, Buicks, and Caddies were really "by Chevy." And every car magazine, and every car kid in America knew that fact. When these kids grew up, they didn't buy Pontiac. Which is why Pontiac no longer exists. If GM had let Pontiac stay edgy and tolerated its rivalries with Chevy that existed in 1965, it probably could be GTO by Chevrolet, the aficionados would be fine with that, therefore the Lemmings would, and GM wouldn't be owned by you and me. Are you listening, K2?
Similar story with the Mustang, which hit its cultural high water mark in 1968 with Bullitt, but was finished as a performance car by 1970 and suffered a three decade sales slump regardless of some success in racing. It got big and heavy, ceased to be cool, and a few years later, the Lemmings noticed and stopped buying it. Why is it selling again? Because Definers decided that retro was cool, and Carol Shelby grumbled validation (ironically, he prefers the V6, on the grounds it gives better weight balance, handing. Definers care about handling, Lemmings are all about hp).
OK, skis: IMO Lemmings will buy Volkls if they are seen on the feet of Definers: Winning competitors or strong skiers on the local slopes. Regardless of whether they say, "Racetiger by K2." OTOH, I began to question Volkls long term prognosis when I started seeing Mantras on a lot of intermediates out west. Exploders were mythic, mostly on the feet of guys who slipped out the back gates at first lift, or patrollers. Mantras now are becoming the next B3. Anybody can drive them. Early Gotamas were ground breaking, tailored to specialists who lived for powder. Now they're trying to keep up with the indies, and otherwise everybody's default compromise for variable days. A good, reliable ski. Which is the kiss of death for marketing.
So I just think it's too simple to argue that consumers won't accept a product if its brand is consolidated. Some consumers won't care, they'll be more concerned with whether the car/ski pushes the envelope. They probably know exactly who makes every piece of the product. Others will follow the first group into the ski store. A few will care, because they trail way back, and don't know jack. But when the first group leaves the building, even if the product keeps selling nicely for a while, it's walking dead. That's where Volkl is right now, IMHO.