TRAVERSE CITY, MICH.-- Chrysler wants to create a brand image that is refined, expressive, and romantic, said Joe Eberhardt, executive vice president, global sales and marketing, DaimlerChrysler Corp.
The image of the product creates the image of the company, he said yesterday at the Management Briefing Seminars. If you have a lineup thats old and tired, you cant expect sympathy from anyone the dealers, your potential customers, Wall Street, the media.
The company wants to move the Chrysler brand upscale with such vehicles as the Pacifica and Crossfire. But Chryslers reputation for mediocre quality and intense competition from import brands makes it a daunting task.
The Imperial is an example of a Chrysler vehicle that conveyed the brand image Eberhardt envisions for the future.
I think we had some of the design components, he said. I think we had had some of the expressiveness, but in order to be really a competitor in the premium sector, all that has to be supported by not just real quality improvement, but also perceived quality improvement. Thats the area we need to work on the most going forward.
The way to sell Chrysler buyers on a quality image will not be through advertising, but by putting them behind the wheel. Advertising will be designed to drive people to experience the product attributes, he said.
The Chrysler group will launch nine new products in 2004, Eberhardt said. Although the ideal situation would be to have no incentives on new products, the realistic hope is to have reduced incentives.
We want to move our customer base from opportunistic deal-of-the-day buyers to well-informed brand advocates, Eberhardt said.
Meanwhile, the July selling rate of 17.7 million was higher than anyone in the industry expected, he said, making no firm projection for August. Pull-ahead from future sales and conversion from what would have been used car sales contributed to the higher-than-expected July sales.