I completely agree with Keith Crain's April 14 column, "A wagon is a wagon is a car." There's no question that many of those new crossover vehicles are immediately recognizable (by those of us of a certain age) as station wagons.
To Crain's point in calling a rose a rose, I'd like to comment on his April 7 column, "We Americans love a bargain." "Cash-back incentives," "interest-free loans," "coupons," "rebates," "Buy-a-car, get-a-check" - automotive companies can apply any term they like, but they should know that consumers recognize them for what they are: discounts.
Discounts are expensive. They reduce the perceived value of the vehicles and force a whole chain of events (layoffs, suppliers pushed to cut costs, etc.) that will affect future quality, styling and service. And discounts certainly don't help to differentiate the brands, as the other auto companies immediately jump on board with comparable programs.
Where is that first rule of sales that says we have to demonstrate only that the product is worth the investment? This is a contest to see who can be there first with the biggest rebate.
I would love to read more stories about auto companies employing truly creative promotions that add value to the product or purchase/ownership experience, reinforce their brand message, and reward and develop customer loyalty.