Tag Archives: automobiles

Bye, Bye VW Beetle

As marketers know, products have a life cycle that ranges from birth to decline. Every product eventually reaches its maturity stage where sales slow, and then it succumbs to a decline stage when the product is eliminated. Such is the case for virtually all products, including the indelible VW Beetle.

The Volkswagen Beetle has been around in some form since 1938, selling more than 24 million cars worldwide. The car was redesigned several times, most recently in the 1990s into the ‘new Beetle’. But now, VW has decided to pull the plug and will discontinue the iconic little car. As of 2020, no more ‘slug Bugs’ will be manufactured.

The Beetle was first introduced in the 1930s, designed by Ferdinand Porsche at the behest of Hitler and known as a “people’s car.” It has been immortalized in films such as Disney’s “The Love Bug” and was also known as a car for hippies hitting the road in the 1960s and 1970s. The Beetle had an iconic shape that was easily recognizable and has a front grill with headlight ‘eyes’ that looks like a smiling face. It’s easy to smile when looking at a Beetle.

There is a ‘final edition’ Beetle which sells for $23,000 – $27,000. And like all good things, there is an end.

R.I.P. VW Beetle. You will be missed.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the stages in the product life cycle. What are the marketing objectives in each stage?
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team draw a product life cycle and place various products and services into each stage.
  3. Next, discuss the life cycle of automobiles and the VW Beetle.
  4. Visit the VW Web site at to view the final models: https://www.vw.com/models/beetle/section/overview/
  1. A video of VW Beetle manufacturing: https://youtu.be/McV7siceylU
  2. A farewell video can be seen here: https://youtu.be/uKuYXNLGlOc
  3. News video about the Beetle’s last ride: https://youtu.be/0C38YYmNiEQ
  4. Next, have students brainstorm on how to reposition or revise products/services to that they can move into an earlier stage of the life cycle or be reinvented for a new life.

Source:  Ad Age; Automobile Magazine; Business Insider; Car and Driver; Forbes; other news sources

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Tesla’s Cybertruck – Public Relations in Action

Students often wonder how public relations is used as a promotional tool. Compared to advertising – which is very transparent – public relations and news releases are hidden from the view of most consumers. Yet, public relations is a critical tool in the marketing toolbox. It is relatively inexpensive (compared to advertising), can be targeted to specific news outlets, can be easily focused on a specific geography and industry, is a simple way to “influence the influencers,” and it lends an aura of credibility when consumers read a story in the news.

Although public relations may look like independent news, all of the efforts are initiated by marketers in order to get attention from the media. Think of it this way: The target market is comprised of editors and writers for news releases, not the consumer. The news releases are focused on providing important information that the consumers of the media outlets want to hear about.

One company that stands above the rest when it comes to public relations is Tesla. The company is a non-stop news-making machine, headed by CEO Elon Musk.

  • Tesla uses social media extensively. It does not use traditional advertising, but instead relies on media coverage to help promote its products.
  • In November the company announced a live stream of an event in Los Angeles preceding the LA Auto Show, held at Tesla’s Design Center. This event launched the new electric Cybertruck, retailing for $39,900 – $69,900.
  • Tesla also provided information on its Web site about the new truck.
  •  In less than a week following the announcement, an estimated 150,000+ pre-orders (at $100 each) have been placed for Cybertruck, and there were millions of web hits and stories generated.
  • All this was accomplished with broken windows in the demonstration, but without a single paid advertisement!

So now tell us, where does news come from?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Start by discussing the value of public relations.
  2. A video of the news release distribution process can be seen at: https://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/
  3. Use the ‘Tesla Cybertruck’ announcement as a PR example. Have students do a search on the phrase using their phones or laptops.
  4. How many hits are there? How many videos? Does the news expand to outside of the U.S.? What is estimated the dollar value of this reach?
  5. Compare the information in several articles with the information included on Tesla’s Web site: https://www.tesla.com/cybertruck
  6. Have students select a company or product. Then, have students find business articles in the news and trace the articles back to information provided by companies.

Source:  Bloomberg; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; CNN News; Wired magazine, other news sources

 

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Tesla Keeps Shifting Tactics

Once again we examine Tesla. Ok, ok, we know we covered it last month when the company announced it would be closing stores, and then reversed the stores closing. Also last month, the company announced price increases for all models except for the Model 3. And that seemed like a lot for a relatively short period of time. But, Tesla still wasn’t quite done.

Later in March, Tesla announced a new vehicle named the Model Y, a compact sport-utility vehicle with an expected price of $39,000. Model Y will begin production in 2020, have a range of 300 miles/charge, and go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. Larger than the Model 3, Model Y will sell for $47,000 in fall 2020 with a $39,000 version expected in spring 2021. Tesla is now taking orders for Model Y with a $2,500 refundable deposit.

Next, in mid-April, Tesla announced that it is halting online sales of the Model 3 at the $35,000 base version. (Wait – wasn’t last month’s tactic shift about moving buyers to use online shopping? What’s happening?) Buyers can order the $35,000 priced version only by telephone or at Tesla’s retail stores. If buying online on Tesla’s website, the minimum price for the Model 3 starts at $39,500, 13% higher than in stores. This is the fourth price change already this year for Tesla.

Another point of confusion concerns test drives. On Tesla’s website it states that customers can drive a car for a week, or less than 1,000 miles, and still return it. Some stores have told buyers that is they test drive before buying, they only have a single day to return the car.  Also according to the website, car delivery should happen within two weeks, but stores have stated that it can take much longer in some areas, particularly if customers want the $35,000 base model.

It’s not good to confuse consumers.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss Tesla’s distribution model and compare it to other automobile manufacturers’ models. What are advantages? Disadvantages?
  2. Show the Model Y in class: https://www.tesla.com/modely
  3. What are the key differentiators for this model versus competition?
  4. Review key aspects of developing a product positioning map, including determining the axis labels for positioning.
  5. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a positioning map for Tesla.
  6. Have each team draw their map on the board.
  7. Debrief exercise.

Source: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Assoc. Press, other news sources

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