Buick pulled no punches at the 2017 New York International Auto Show, displaying two all-new vehicles – the 2018 Buick Regal and 2018 Buick Enclave — and two all-new variants — the 2018 Regal TourX and 2018 Enclave Avenir. These latest, youthful products come from a brand that has made significant strides in shedding its stubborn geriatric stereotypes from decades prior, which many would say stared with the original Buick Enclave that launched roughly 10 years ago. To find out how Buick will continue this momentum, we sat down with Susanne Hinz, assistant marketing director for the all-new 2018 Enclave. Below is the first part of the two-part interview.
GMAuthority: 10 years ago Buick had the original one (Enclave), that came out and broke a lot of ground, especially for a brand like Buick that was ‘grandpa’s brand, grandma’s brand… weird aunts brand.’ How far has Buick marketing come, and where can the new Enclave take it?
Susanne Hinz: When the Enclave came out, like you said almost a decade ago, this vehicle really surfaced the Buick brand renaissance. The success has been unprecedented; obviously not the new one that was revealed last night, but that was on the market for nearly a decade and it was for a reason. It had an unprecedented sales success. And like last night, Duncan said your traditional product’s life-cycle usually is a bell curve – it rises and it falls, and with this Enclave we didn’t see that. So it really has served us well, and we think that this new Enclave will take it even further, and that’s for a couple different reasons. So, first is we know who the customer is, we know what their lifestyle is like, what they need out of a new vehicle, what they need out of the functionality and the versatility. So we listened to them. Our designers and engineers have listened to them, and have taken all of those factors into consideration when creating and engineering this new vehicle.
SH: We’re not afraid to be a little bit older with this vehicle, and I’ll tell you why. The customer that is driving this Enclave is somebody that is – I’ll say successful. So what they did was, they put their career and their education before starting a family. So they had kids later in life, which if you do the math they’re going to be a little bit older, we’re ok with that. They’re fluent (affluent?), they have the education, the background, and the means to have a vehicle like the Enclave, like the Enclave Avenir. So, from an aging perspective, our target probably falls between the 50 and the 55 y.o. range.
GMA: For Buick overall, I mean. The geriatric stereotype is still there – how has the Enclave helped bring that down?
SH: I think it’s styling, and I have two really great case studies sitting in front of me right now. Jen (of Buick Communications) and I are both in our 30’s and we were in Buicks before we even started working for GM. Something pulled us to the brand, that was definitely unaided by the fact that we work here, like I said this was before we worked here. I’m on my 4th Buick – Jen I don’t know if this is your 1st or 2nd –
Jen: It’s my 2nd
SH: So, for me personally it’s the styling. I think that they represent – what the brand represents, I want to say about myself as a person.
GMA: Is Buick skewing female these days, buyer wise?
SH: So we are growing in our percent female, and we’re ok with that. The Encore is one that is really, it’s really garnered a lot of the attention. [I’m] not saying that men aren’t driving the Encore, but the Encore is our entry-point to the Buick brand, and it’s capturing a lot of really great attention from people who happen to be female.
GMA: Strategy-wise. How are you going to reach the audience for the 2018 Enclave?
SH: So, we will have a full-fledged advertising campaign. It’ll be TV, digital – a lot of digital, obviously that’s where a lot of our customers are, that’s a really efficient way for us to get in front of the right people at the right time. Especially knowing when they are in-market. I think that answers your question, but there will be a full-fledged advertising and marketing campaign to support this launch.
SH: I think it’s too early to say.