By on November 12, 2009

Every market has its own... challenges

You need to go to your toughest market. The state of California is the biggest nut to crack for Buick. Californians love their Toyotas, they love their luxury cars, their BMWs and their Priuses, Buick is not even on their radar screen. These people don’t know this Regal. Picking the L.A. Auto Show demonstrates some confidence we have in the product and in the brand.

So says GM’s Susan Docherty in the Detroit News. Of course, it also shows how screwed the Buick brand is. California on its own is one of the largest markets for cars in the world, and it’s also home to some of the most virulently anti-domestic-brand sentiment in the country. Which explains why Buick is trying to win over the Golden State with its first-ever imported model. But as Docherty says, “One car doesn’t transform a brand. You have to have a series of successes so one, plus one, plus one equals more than three.” Meanwhile, while Buick tries to convince Californians that they don’t actually want a Lexus, everyone who thought they knew and loved the Buick brand will just be confused.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

33 Comments on “Quote Of The Day: California Dreamin’ Edition...”


  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    “so one, plus one, plus one equals more than three”
    With maths like this, I’m questioning GM’s sales figures…..

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    First ever imported model, uh, I don’t think so, since Buick imported Opels in the 70′s.

    I can still hear the voice from The Price is Right – “Aaaaa brand-new Buick Opel!!”. They probably gave away more than they sold back in the day.

    But they don’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of selling many of them in La La Land.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. The logic of the Buick brand, particularly in CA, escapes me. A lower-priced alternative in the luxury segment? Saving money on the purchase is the antithesis of the segment. “Look at what I saved,” has no bearing, and in fact, would be embarrassing.

      And, there’s no other way to sell to buyers new to the brand that I can see.

  • avatar
    210delray

    This is beyond stupid.  Can somebody please fire Ms. Susan?

  • avatar
    Robbie

    New 4 cylinder Buicks: (1) nobody under 50 buys it because they don’t want to get caught in a Buick; (2) nobody over 50 will buy it because it’s a modern 4 cylinder car…

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Since Californians are usually the first to adopt to new products it will be interesting to see how the Regal is received. Despite the state’s anti domestic bias the country’s largest Ford dealer is Galpin in LA and they have been the largest for quite some time.

  • avatar
    CyCarConsulting

    Until you get the over indulging tragically hip Hollywood crowd in these cars, you can forget about the LA market. My suggestion is to give some free cars away to the Entourage crowds etc.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    CyCarConsulting-Hey! Maybe they can give them away on Oprah.
    I’m sure Paris or Brittany have some sychophants that feel terminally under exposed that would jump at telling their (heart rending) story for a free car on national TV.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    Caraholica

    This takes dementia to a new level. In fact it is an insult to those who are legitimately demented.
    No one will see this car and no one will care. You could light it on fire on the 405 freeway at 5pm and it wouldnt get a second look.  Give it up and send them all back to China where they seem to be wanted.

  • avatar
    Mark out West

    Guys, Californians aren’t “virulently anti-domestic”.  And given the utter destruction of the California “dream” these days (and I’m a third generation native), I seriously doubt a lot of folks will be moving back into leased BMWs and Benzes any time soon.  So yeah, maybe it’s time to look stateside for some value.  Can Buick do it?  Worth a try.

  • avatar
    Thinx

    How much Chinese parts content does this have?  If GM wants me to consider this car, they have to give me the confidence that I won’t find some melamine-enhanced, lead-coated chinese component anywhere in this car.

  • avatar
    jet_silver

    Hipster 1: Dude, I can’t believe I see you in a Buick.
    Hipster 2: I’m driving it ironically.  Have a PBR and chill out.

  • avatar
    probert

    It’s not a bad looking car for the class it’s in.
     
    Caraholica: It’s made in Germany not China – if that matters.  But here’s a challange: send everything not made domestically “back where it comes from”.  You will be naked in a very quiet house.

  • avatar

    The more I read about the Regal, the more I like. They’re going to offer it with adjustable suspension and steering. Might end up actually being an enjoyable car to drive.

  • avatar
    dwford

    This all just seems deja vu to me. Reminds me of Oldsmobile: create a clean break with loyal customers by coming up with new model names, new designs that share nothing with the past, then hope for conquest customers.
    And the whole notion of building the Regal in limited quantities is really just saying “we’ve lost all hope of regaining the lost customers, so we aren’t even going to bother building the cars.”

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Looking at the photo, I would think Buick may be in trouble trying to market using german advertising in a spanish-speaking state…

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Any transformation of Buick’s perceived market demographic will take 10 years, but I don’t think they don’t have that much time.  Just think of Cadillac’s transformation into a performance luxury brand and how long that took.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    From September 2006 through June 2008, Docherty was the Western Region manager for General Motors, so she knows a thing or two about GM’s falling of off California car buyer’s radar screen. Seeing as she presided over it that failure for two years. After that failure she got bumped upstairs to run the Buick-Pontiac-GMC sales channel … a strategy which was part and parcel of GM ending up in bankruptcy court. Now on top of that stunning achievement she gets put in charge of sales for all of GM.
    Just what kind of a meritocracy is GM ?????
    P.S. Take some Pepto-Bismol before you read this fawning intervier by “Ask Patty” with Susan D. http://www.askpatty.com/page.php?Title=Getting_to_Know_Susan_Docherty,_General_Motors_Western_Region_General_Manager/

  • avatar
    iheartcars

    Growing up in Southern California, my dad was staunchly a domestic supporter while my mom was strictly import-only. I’ve ended up with a fondness for both. So while I don’t think I represent the average car-buying (Southern) Californian, I really like the new Regal and LaCrosse designs inside and out. I think the worst part of the designs is the Buick stigma.

  • avatar
    NickR

    They might be targetting those libertarians in California. There appears to be a subliminal message about Amy Winehouse in the background. Sorry, bad joke. As others have mentioned, the designs are respectable enough and I am not sure that a 4-banger is much of a detriment to the brand. It’s the brand that’s a detriment to the brand.

  • avatar

    So its a regrilled Opel Insignia without the award winning Saab Turbo motor intially or a diesel. Good luck wit dat Sue.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I don’t think California is anti-domestic.  If the domestics made the Accord, Camry or Sonata, that’s what would get bought.  Oh wait…. are those domestic cars??
    And by Domestic, I mean made in the USA.  As opposed to the Ford Fusion, Pontiac G8, etc.

  • avatar
    maniceightball

    and it’s also home to some of the most virulently anti-domestic-brand sentiment in the country
    I’m not really picking a side here, but that’s quite a claim to make without backing it up. Do you have evidence one way or the other?

  • avatar
    gimmeamanual

    Two Buick salesmen go to California.  The first emails GM saying no one buys Buicks here, and he’s returning immediately.  The second emails GM telling them to ship every Buick they can make as there is a huge market for them… 

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    For once an idea from GM makes some sense but
    unfortunately this seems to have the ring of the
    “customer is stupid” again. Too stupid to realise greatness at GM. Can someone
    kindly tell Susan that she shouldn’t speak to customers like that?
     
    You’d think over time they’d learn some lessons, especially
    out in the wacky CA west. Those Opels are nice but
    unless they can find a way to break the Buick stereotype it will fail in CA.
     
    (Maximum respect to the Governator – that’s actually pretty hard to do!)

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Something to keep in mind about California in general is the vast majority of the state’s population is conservative which is why they have a Republican governor. The east coast media has for decades portrayed the state as being entirely populated with far left leaning radicals whom in fact comprise a very small percentage of the population but garner 99.9% of the media coverage.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    Buick has an incredible history. Go retro. Create ads that will tie this car into what the Californians loved about their retro rides and classic cars.

    Eventually Toyota and Honda folks will remember their roots in America and when the right American ride comes along, they will indulge their retro cravings with an American car. The Japanese have saturated this market. Eventually driving an American car, the right American car, will be seen as cool again.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Where’s Mikey?  I want to know if this is going to be built in Oshawa is it going to displace the Impala?  If so, is the Impala finished?

    The police are going to be in a bind…no Crown Vic, no Impala, probably no Chargers. 


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India