The car companies behind the new wave of sporty SUVs and sporty pickup trucks that have hit the market in recent years have had a difficult time building a following.
That’s partly because their product lines are more generic than some other major brands’ offerings, and partly because some of their customers may not be in the market for a sports car.
In fact, the brand loyalty of the sporty vehicle buyers has been a major concern for automakers like General Motors (GM) and Ford (F), who are trying to position their brands as the vehicles of choice for the future.
Now, according to new research from research firm Morningstar, the sportiest vehicles are increasingly getting into the car buying pipeline, thanks to a combination of the new sporty SUV and pickup trucks.
But if the automakers are worried about their brand image, how can they ensure that their vehicles aren’t just a marketing tool to entice people to buy into the brand?
“The main thing you have to do is make sure you do not have a product that you think is going to make people think, ‘Oh, this is the new thing,'” said Morningstar chief executive Brian Wieser.
In particular, the brands need to be aware that people who are already invested in the brand may be reluctant to buy new vehicles.
“The key is to do your best to make sure the new car is a good value for the money,” he said.
That means that it needs to be a sporty car with a low mileage rating, a low price tag, and a low cost of ownership, all of which will help attract people to the brand, Morningstar analyst Mike Sadek said.
In a survey of 2,000 customers, Morningman found that only 36% of those who were considering a sport-utility vehicle were actually interested in buying it.
But the brands could be doing some good by making sure they have a high mileage rating on the vehicle, Sadeg said.
“A lot of the customers will buy an SUV or a sport utility vehicle, and they’ll have a very high mileage,” he added.
Morningstar has found that sporty cars get more people to invest in the company each year.
That can be a big boost to its brand, but also can lead to lower margins.
“I think the big question in the industry is, how does that benefit the brand in the long term?” said Wiesecker.
“What does the brand do in the future?”
The brands could also be doing something else that might help make sporty vehicles more appealing to potential customers.
If the brands had a more differentiated product, like a low-mileage SUV, the people who bought the vehicles would likely have a higher likelihood of purchasing one over the other, Sadesh said.