As More Automakers Enter SUV Space, Questions of Access and Exclusivity Arise

BY Courtney Huckabay
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"Italy’s Maserati is the latest automaker to create an upscale SUV, but is such a vehicle viable for brands in the luxury tier?" Forrest Cardamenis asked. "The Maserati Levante is the brand’s first SUV and follows the release of Bentley’s Bentayga. Consumer desire for SUVs is growing and other brands have models in production, but the segment can present problems with positioning and image."

"Maserati boasts that the Levante has the same on-​road handling levels as their lighter, smaller cars and also off-​road capabilities that SUV consumers demand. In addition, its design and the use of lightweight materials, namely aluminum, give it a center of gravity lowest in the SUV class. The vehicle will launch this spring in Europe and later this year in the rest of the world."

5.9% of U.S. adults are considering sport utility vehicles for purchase, AudienceSCAN reported.

"SUVs have long been popular in the United States, but the growth has continued and expanded to other parts of the world. The vehicles sell well in India due to the country’s rough roads, have become a status symbol in China and are coveted in Brazil for their spaciousness."

"In the U.S., SUV sales are projected to surpass sedan sales by 2018 and the growth of small SUVs and crossovers from December 2014 to December 2015 outpaces any other vehicle class, with midsize SUVs and crossovers in second place."

AudienceSCAN revealed SUV Shoppers are 48% more likely to take action after seeing TV (over-​the-​air, online, mobile or tablet) commercials, so make sure SUVs are highlighted in your spots.

"During the mid- and late-‘00s, sales of the vehicle class slowed owing to high gas prices, but with oil prices at their lowest point in over 12 years, consumers do not worry as much about emptying their wallets on a tank of gas."

"Not much is yet known about the Urus, but there is speculation of a hybrid powertrain, which will further nullify gas-​guzzling worries and minimize environmental impact. While some luxury brands work toward SUVs, almost all have or have plans to dabble in electric powertrains."

AudienceSCAN survey results show that 37.1% of SUV Shoppers took action after receiving mobile smartphone app ads or text message ads in the past month.

"The Porsche Cayenne is an instructive case. Anticipation for the vehicle was tepid, but the power and handling of the vehicle helped it stand out among other SUVs, which could in turn have created new fans who would go on to explore the rest of the brand’s fleet."

"Over a decade later, Porsche is setting sales records and the Cayenne, now available in hybrid models, remains in production. With proper branding, marketing and engineering, unfamiliar and unexpected new products can help a brand thrive in the long-term."

"Most automakers cannot afford to ignore electric and SUV trends. For most, being discerning about what trends are for real and which are mere fads is the key to balancing access with prestige. “[SUVs] obviously seems to be the trend that has staying power,” Bob Prosser, CEO of Auto World Marketing said.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.