How Chevy's Spark aims to appeal to Gen Y consumers
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DETROIT -- Chevrolet marketers are aiming the Spark minicar at millennials, and to grab the attention of these Generation Y consumers, Chevy plans to follow the game plan it used for the launch of the 2012 Sonic -- forgoing TV spots in favor of a digital approach.
Chris Perry, Chevrolet's vice president of global marketing, said the brand is looking to attract new customers with the five-door hatchback that began selling July 19 in 18 U.S. 18 markets.
He expects the Spark to complement the brand's Cruze compact and Sonic subcompact.
"Right now we have no plan for TV for this vehicle. That can always change," Perry said Thursday before his presentation at a Spark media event here. "Our history and our experience show with the Sonic that, for this younger audience, that might not be necessary."
Among the Spark's features Chevy is counting on to appeal to millennials is the MyLink infotainment system. The seven-inch touch screen in the 1LT and 2LT trim levels serves as the media hub for drivers who want their vehicles and smartphones to work together. The system allows drivers to stream music and other content in the Spark, which doesn't have a CD player.
Cristi Landy, marketing director for Chevrolet small cars, said the brand wants to push the Spark as a value buy.
The LS manual transmission version sells for $12,995 while the priciest version, a 2LT with automatic transmission, starts at $16,720. The prices include shipping.
General Motors sold 1,460 Sparks in the United States in July.
"The volume is going to be relatively low," Landy said in an interview. "We wanted to start out on the East and West Coast where smaller cars are fairly popular."
Chevrolet is also counting on the hatchback's fuel efficiency to attract young consumers.
The Spark, which gets 32 mpg city/38 highway, achieves the lowest average fuel cost of any of the brand's small cars, said Jim Federico, GM's chief engineer for global compact, small, mini and electric vehicles.
Perry said the departure of GM global marketing chief Joel Ewanick this week won't affect Chevrolet's marketing approach.
"The strategy and the direction that we've been on for Chevrolet doesn't change. We've been achieving some success in the U.S. market," Perry said. "We see that in our tracking studies and all the research that we do."
The Sonic will have to make room for the Spark on its Facebook fan page.
"We're basically going to share that Facebook page. We've already been putting some Spark content on there and it's been very well received from the Sonic enthusiasts," Landy said.
Chevrolet is lining up a promotional effort with MTV centered on new music from emerging artists around the world.
The Spark will also pace 5K runs during the Color Run, a series of running events across the nation in which participants get pelted with colored corn starch.
The runners start their runs wearing all white, but end the race "looking like a rainbow," she said.
The Spark will appear at the post-run parties.
"It's an ideal spot to be," Landy said. "It's a lot of energy, a lot of colors, a lot of young people."
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