When the notion of spinning Corvette off into its own brand recently resurfaced, there were were those in favor, and those against the move. And even though GM Authority posed the question way before the 2014 Stingray was unveiled, I think it wise to revisit the subject with a pragmatic opinion piece outlining why Corvette should not be split off from Chevrolet.
For starters, the Corvette is at the heart of Chevrolet. It represents, and has represented for decades, the state-of-the-art of American automotive performance. In fact, it can even be argued that the 2014 Corvette Stingray represents the state-of-the-art of not only American, but also of world-class performance. So to say that a considerable amount of equity exists between Corvette and Chevy may be an understatement.
Whenever people think Corvette, they think Chevrolet. And possibly vice-versa. So while it may be argued that the “blue-collar” image of Chevrolet might be holding Corvette back from appealing to a more upscale (snobby?) group of customers, it can equally be argued that Corvette can help (elevate) the Chevy brand.
To that end, the grave reality today is that GM needs to build Chevrolet into a powerhouse in certain global markets where The Bow Tie
isn’t as strong as it should be is weak. And it should use the power of Corvette as a brand ambassador in order to grow Chevy in those markets.
I’m specifically referring to markets such as Europe, where Chevrolet’s presence is rather small — a position we expect to change over time as consumers realize that the brand now offers significantly better vehicles than the rebadged Daewoos it was selling as recently as 2010. And so it goes without saying that the C7 will wow Europeans; add in some smart marketing that establishes a direct connection between Corvette and Chevrolet, and the plan can result in a significant boost in Chevrolet brand reputation, cachet, and status. And more of that means more sales… right? Right.
Looking back on the last few decades, Corvette has always been Chevy’s halo car, the purpose of which, outside of making a profit on each model, was to position the Chevy brand above its competitors. And the all-new Corvette can serve this role better than any other Vette before it. With a proper marketing strategy, the C7 can be that silver bullet that elevates Chevrolet’s image globally, in markets where The Bow Tie brand has traditionally been rather weak. Not only that, but the association between the new supercar and the Chevy brand can also attract buyers of import vehicles in the States, customers who have left Chevy for the competition, or simply don’t consider the brand when shopping for vehicles due to perceived stigmas.
As it stands, GM should use the Corvette’s prowess as a halo flagship product to attract lost buyers, while informing those who may not be aware of the brand’s qualities that Chevys are a (more than) viable choice for their next vehicle in the mainstream segment, rather than Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, or VW.
To do just that, GM would need to increase the association between Corvette and Chevrolet. Not diminish it.