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Jaguar's eXcellent adventure

Jaguar plans a comprehensive marketing strategy for the imminent release of the 4WD X-type

25 Sep 2001

JAGUAR Cars Australia has commissioned the brand's most ambitious and comprehensive advertising campaign to date in preparation for the October 1 release of what it calls the most significant car in Jaguar history.

The marketing strategy for the 4WD X-Type, which aims to double Jaguar's sales both locally and worldwide within two years, will include an increased presence - especially in regional areas - by exploiting future Premier Auto Group dealerships.

JCA holds around 100 X-Type pre-orders and has been allocated just 450 cars for 2001, but within 15 months expects to double Jaguar's volume, which has remained static since 1999, by shifting a projected 1000 units in 2002.

The relatively conservative sales forecast would see X-Type's popularity vie with that of its Swedish and Italian rivals, but fall well short of the following attracted by Audi, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and the BMW 3 Series sales king.

But senior Jaguar executives concede the already difficult task of luring an entirely new, younger clientele away from formidable established opposition in the compact luxury segment will be made harder by any economic downturn in the wake of recent terrorism attacks in the US.

S-Type played a pivotal role in doubling Jaguar's sales both here and overseas following its 1999 release.

But the first mid-size Jaguar since 1969 has only recently showed signs of arresting its slowing sales rate.

Some 80 per cent of X-Type volume must come from conquest sales if the smallest, least expensive Jaguar is to meet its sales targets.

But the British "big cat" cannot afford to cannibalise its own larger sibling.

"We're still projecting 2000 sales for Jaguar next year," Jaguar Cars Australia managing director Danny Rezek said.

"But, given recent events and the fact S-Type only now appears to be receiving the recognition it deserves, it's not going to be easy."Mr Rezek said future multi-brand franchises within Ford's PAG would provide further opportunities for expansion as Jaguar moved from being an XJ/XK-based niche company to a more complete luxury nameplate - but only if it made financial sense.

"Jaguar has the most to gain as it has the smallest dealer body in the Premier Auto Group," he said.

"Of course we'll need to add more dealers as part of the growth phase, but what's important is to have the best possible retail outlets.

"What determines who gets a Jaguar franchise depends on the business case. In each case we check their credentials. We wouldn't compromise sales to have a family dealer."Four new dealers joined the Jaguar stable this year to support X-Type, with NSW outlets in Port Macquarie, Albury and Wollongong, plus Morwell in Victoria, bringing the number of Jaguar dealers to 26, including 10 metro retailers.

Mr Rezek said "only a handful more" rural dealers would be required in the near term.

JCA's marketing strategy for X-Type includes an e-card promotion, extensive print and outdoor advertising, and a new television commercial to screen in the weeks straddling the October 1 launch of 2.5 and 3.0 SE models and the 2.5 Sport. The 3.0 Sport will arrive in November.

The average Australian Jaguar owner is currently aged 51 but Mr Rezek is confident X-Type can conquer enough 30-something professionals and empty-nesters to be successful without harming Jaguar's exclusivity.

"Fifteen per cent of S-Type buyers were new to Jaguar," he said.

"And some 39 per cent of cars traded were 5 Series BMWs and E-class Mercedes. What we'll see with X-Type is the biggest diversity of trade-in conquest cars ever - everything from Porsche to Magna and Commodore."Responding to previous quality and residual value concerns, Mr Rezek also used the X-Type media launch to reveal independent research that showed S-Type had the highest resale value of any car sold in the UK.

In a recent JD Power quality survey Jaguar also ranked second only to Lexus in the UK and US.

Mr Rezek said that even if X-Type achieved its 100,000 target in 2002 - breaking new prestige car ground for Ford - relatively modestvolumes would guarantee the smallest Jaguar's exclusivity alongside the likes of A4 and C-class, which are each produced in numbers of 250,000 annually.

A massive 475,000 3 Series variants found homes last year though on overall figures Mercedes-Benz (1,100,000 units) dwarfs even BMW (850,000).

Nevertheless, the enormity of Jaguar's task in selling 200,000 cars per year is not lost on director overseas operations, Ian Major.

"We expect to quadruple in size in a four to five-year period - that's something no-one else has been able to do and yet we're already halfway to that objective."Mr Major said Jaguar's Ford-subsidised renaissance was product-led, starting in 1994 with the XJ sedan and producing record sales of 50,000 in 1998. S-Type doubled that to 100,000 in 1999.

"The large car market is shrinking but growth in the prestige compact market is opportune for X-Type. So it's a difficult challenge: X-Type is now the most significant car in Jaguar history as we attempt to attract new owners and double our sales again," he said.

Mr Major said no official date had yet been set for when PAG Australia would start business from its new North Ryde premises in Sydney, but it is believed Jaguar will be the first to move in and the new arrangement will be in place by February.

X-Type represents a fourth model line for Jaguar and, importantly, allows the 80-year-old British brand entry to the valuable corporate sector.

But it will also feature variants that will help sustain Jaguar's long-term volumes.

Jaguar's manager vehicle engineering small sports saloons, Tony Cartwright, also present at the Australian X-Type launch, said: "We'd be pretty stupid not to recognise the possibilities (of future X-Type variants). The body structure is so stiff it's well suited to creating other body styles."It is believed an X-Type estate will be first cab of the rank, followed closely by:
  • A coupe/convertible
  • Diesel-powered X-Type produced in conjunction with the French PSA group
  • 2.0-litre, front-drive entry level car
  • 246kW supercharged V6 X-Type R to complete with BMW's M3 by 2003
  • An X-Type R estate to rival Audi's giant-killing RS4.

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