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Slow burn strategy for Citroen

New dawn: Citroen Australia is banking on new products such as its freshly launched C4 Picasso to slowly increase its sales volumes.

Citroen Australia needs a hit – and soon – but understands the need to be patient

12 Feb 2015

THE smallest French brand in Australia, Citroen, will continue on a slow and steady growth strategy, as it awaits a raft of new products due to launch in coming years.

Citroen’s recent launch of the unusually positioned, $40,990, plus on-road costs, C4 Picasso five-seater – just $4000 shy of the Grand C4 Picasso seven-seater, itself the recent recipient of a $1000 price hike – has brought no assurances of rapid sales growth from senior management in fact, the strategy is quite the opposite.

Speaking with media at the New South Wales launch of the C4 Picasso this week, Citroen Australia general manager John Startari echoed comments he made to GoAuto last month about the car-maker’s slow and steady strategy for this market.

“We’re after organic sustainable growth,” he said. “And the strategy that we’ve adopted is one of new product releases and slowly building on our existing owner base and trying to attract new buyers, and hence leading into a new segment with this car.”

Mr Startari defined the strategy as one of a “slow burn” policy.

“Organic growth refers to growth within,” he explained. “We’re not looking to be a flash in the pan, we’re looking to grow slowly, and within our means.” Citroen Australia product manager Mr Glen Fields said that while a diesel version of the C4 Picasso wasn’t imminent, the company would be open to bringing one to market.

“We decided to bring the petrol here first – the market is 80 per cent petrol,” he said. “We are a small and nimble company, though, so if customers did ask for a diesel, we could look at it, but it’s not currently in our plans.”

As reported by GoAuto, the poor-selling C4 Aircross – a product shared with Mitsubishi’s ASX – has been deleted from the local range, making room for the C4 Picasso.

“The decision to remove the Aircross was a local decision, based on where we wanted to position the brand,” Mr Startari said. “The Aircross didn’t fit well with the typical Citroen buyer in this country, so it was a strategic move [to delete it].”

When questioned as to why a purchaser would look at a similar car that has two less seats than the Grand C4 Picasso, Mr Fields said because it is “smaller, and easier to manoeuvre”. He paused before adding, “What else can I say?” “It’s got that small car feel, with the versatility of a wagon, and the access of an SUV,” interjected Mr Startari. “For us, Grand Picasso is aimed at the family market. The Picasso is a five-seater with extra space.”

Mr Fields was more positive about why Citroen will succeed in the Australian market.

“Our cars don’t look like any other cars on the road, and that’s a really big point,” he said. “It’s what our customers are looking for. They are looking for a car that’s different, that’s well specified, and is a good value proposition.

That’s what we offer.”

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