History and trend.
In US the industry began to change in the 1950s when foreign car makers like Toyota, Honda
and Volkswagen offered American consumer‟s smaller cars at lower prices which became major
trend and the quality of import cars are far better than US. General Motors seems to be helpless
to sale their cars in front of the competition of import cars. Customers are more focused for value
in the car which they were getting from imported cars. Imports had claimed a 10.1 percent
market share by 1959. This series of events confirmed in some people's minds the suspicion that
U.S. automakers couldn't produce small cars competitively. As smaller cars were widely
believed to represent the future direction of the industry.
At U.S. Saturn decided that it needed to “start from the beginning,” unconventionally
launch this brand, and do so “from the inside out. An internal project to build an
affordable, high-quality, small car to compete with the imports was approved in May
The project had been dubbed "Saturn," a reference to the Saturn rocket that propelled the
American astronauts to the moon during the space race with the Soviet Union.
Saturn was developed by GM as a separate brand and independent subsidiary in the late
1980s, to deal with the shrinking domestic market share for passenger cars.
Saturn started strong, building a company centered on making a small car of superior
quality and value as efficiently as possible, while combining the most advanced
technology with the newest approaches to management.
The Group of 99 were designated to identify key founding principles for Saturn and to
search the world for the best ideas in all areas. The group consisted of a functional cross-
section of people, including plant managers, superintendents, union committee members,
production workers, and skilled tradesmen, as well as UAW and GM staff from 41 UAW
locals and 55 GM plants.
Saturn has tried to uphold its image as "a different kind of company" To do this, it has
concentrated on creating and maintaining a strong relationship with its customers.
Based upon the profile of imported car buyers, the targeted Saturn consumer would be an
average of 38 years old, earning an average of $51,000 annually and mostly baby
boomers. A large percentage would live on the West Coast and 50 percent would be
The Saturn Marketing Planning Team incorporated the ideas of 16 dealers representing
25 manufacturers. The team studied distribution methods of 30 major U.S. corporations
and came up with Saturn's Market Area Approach (MAA), which was announced on May
26, 1987. MAA set up 300 "territories" to be handled by individual franchised dealers.
Saturn dealers were trained in low-pressure sales and were encouraged to pay salaries
rather than commissions.
An important step in defining Saturn's marketing strategy was the selection of an
advertising agency. The Hal Riney & Partners agency was named as Saturn's
"communications partner" on May 24, 1988. Riney set about creating a "charismatic
Promotional strategy of Unique, "folksy", "straight-talk", $100M+ consumer ad
campaign, building a focused brand image, using themes such as Saturn employees'
enthusiasm, and dedication to building cars "in a brand new way" with US can-do spirit
Saturn advertising was designed to be emotionally driven, with a focus on the human
element rather than the product.
In the film, team members explained what the project meant to them. In the words of a
Riney executive, "We wanted to get people rooting for Saturn, the company."
Advertising Slogan which was made "A Different Kind of Car Company"
SWOT Analysis of Saturn
Marketed itself as a "different kind of
Too much early success causing a
shortage problem due to unwillingness
to see the need for revising the strategic
Potential for financial support from GM Potential reluctance of GM to invest
more money in the Saturn project
Cost efficiency and concern for
employees in the manufacturing plant
Some labor unrest when attempts were
made to increase production resulting in
higher defect rates
People oriented philosophy in all
Limited product line
Perception by consumers of Saturn as a
high quality replacement for imports
Competition from Japanese subcompact
Satisfied Saturn buyers moving on to
intermediate models or sport utility
Strong U.S. dollar has made Saturn
models more expensive compared with
Sizeable small car market in Japan Market strategy may be easily emulated
by Ford, Chrysler, and subcompact
Shift in demand away from compacts to
sport utility vehicles
Lower fuel prices
Sticker Price Comparable to Competition
Saturn buyers' lifestyles, playing up baby boomer themes of utility, value and safety and
Brand focus strengthened by using model numbers not names.
Satisfied value of quality and Best resale value than others car companies.
Positioning- “a different kind of company”
Slogan helps to crystallize the values and culture of the firm
Important part of its brand equity
This position captures the unique way in which Saturn interacts with its customers
It allows a host of specific features and programs to be introduced without confusion.
Centre of gravity for the program
Creating Perceptions by selling the Company and not the Car.
Customer Perceptions are what counts and perceptions do not automatically follow
The solution was to sell the company-its values and culture, its employees and its
customers –rather than the car
Visual Imagery of the Spring Hill Plant
Distanced Itself from GM because the focus was to be on Saturn
Creating a Relationship between Saturn and the Customer
Eliminated price haggling, dealing, rebates and discounts
Brand Identity: Treat Customers like friends and with respect
Saturn is young at heart, genuine, honest, friendly, down to earth and someone who cares
about individuals and competent and reliable
Patriotism: Spring Hill Plant
Consistency Across Media
„Spring in Spring Hill‟ Infomercial
Did a lot of work to ensure that retail effort was on strategy