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Personality key to attracting new buyers to Subaru

Easy-BRZ: Subaru will launch three updated models in the next year, starting with the facelifted BRZ sportscar (pictured) in October, then the Impreza in late-2016 and finally the XV next year.

New Subaru branding targets fresh buyers as new Impreza launch looms

Subaru logo27 Jun 2016

SUBARU Australia’s managing director Nick Senior has admitted the company must “inject more personality” into its lineup with a new marketing push rolling out on the lead up to December’s arrival of the new Impreza, tagged as its most crucial model ever.

“I view it (Impreza) as our most exciting, most important launch ever,” Mr Senior announced at the national media launch of the Subaru Levorg in Port Macquarie, New South Wales.

“Impreza is the first Subaru to be built on our new global platform, which will underpin all future Subarus well into the foreseeable future (and) this new platform has enabled us to make a step-change with Impreza.

“I think it’s probably industry leading in the amount of components that have changed, so we are really excited about it.”

Subaru executives have hinted that the Impreza, which currently retails from $22,990 driveaway, would see a dramatic uplift in standard equipment and safety technology.

However while the Impreza would follow the lead of the Liberty and Outback last year and add equipment, Mr Senior conceded the Impreza would never be a “$19,990 driveaway” model and therefore would not follow the price cuts of its mid-sized models – some of which were as sizeable as $14,000.

He did, however, expect a sizeable rise in demand for the new model, which will be supply constrained from launch (see separate story).

The just-launched Levorg wagon, and the arrival of both the new Impreza mid-sizer in December and the as-yet-unrevealed XV crossover mid-next year, will be part of an important push to expand Subaru’s buyer profile, according to Mr Senior.

“It is important for us as a brand to attract … new customers to Subaru in order for us to reach our long-term business plan goals,” he continued.

“We are well represented in many key demographics but we want to attract more younger people, particularly females, and younger Australian families to Subaru and those families with one or two younger kids.

“To attract these people without alienating our existing customers we have got to inject more personality into the Subaru brand.”

Marketing support would lend itself to this objective, Mr Senior added, with the rollout of a new marketing slogan, Subaru do, complemented by the opening of Subaru Experience pop-up stores in shopping centres around the country.

Currently, two Subaru Experience stores – which allow customers to test drive vehicles from the carpark of a shopping centre – have opened in Victoria, with a further two to open this year and another six to open in the future.

Mr Senior said the lifestyle-branded stores would be positioned in new housing areas and places where Subaru is not represented with a dealership.

“The desire to attract new customers to Subaru is the reason for our new brand positioning, Subaru do, which is in roll-out mode around the country,” he continued.

“It means we are a ‘do’ company. We stand for action and so do our cars, enabling our customers to do more and get more out of life. There is no ambiguity in Subaru do, no maybe, no possibly, no ‘we will look into it’ – we will do it.”

According to Mr Senior, another objective of Subaru do is to “remove obstacles from the purchase and ownership experience”, highlighted by the rollout of mobile servicing vans around the country.

Despite the booming popularity of SUV models sure to be popular in the new housing areas cited as prime locations of Subaru Experience stores, Mr Senior confirmed that a new seven-seat SUV will be out in 2018 for the US market but admitted that “it’s not on our pipeline” due to the fact that it will left-hand-drive only.

Subaru has not had a large SUV in its lineup since the Tribeca finished production in 2013.

Conversely, the current US-market BRZ Performance Package that was initially ruled out for the Australian market would in fact have a chance to be offered locally, Mr Senior revealed.

“We have asked, we’ve seen it and we have asked for it, we’re just continuing discussions, it’s not going to be available at (facelifted BRZ) launch (but) hopefully it will be available next year.”

The facelifted BRZ will arrive late this year as the model’s first update since its launch in 2012.

Although it sees power rise by 4kW/9Nm to 151kW/214Nm, and has a lower final drive ratio, stiffened rear body shell, and retuned suspension and stability control, the BRZ Performance Package adds Brembo brakes and Sachs fixed dampers.

“It’s just components (production) and the ability to get supply of components,” Mr Senior added as the reason for the delayed confirmation of the performance parts package that will not be available on its Toyota 86-twin.

Subaru will launch the facelifted BRZ in October, followed by the Impreza in December and the XV in May 2017.

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