Subaru's Secret: Clever Marketing

Appealing to progressive types may have boosted sales.

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Subaru's sales rose by just 0.3 percent in 2008, but that's a pretty big accomplishment given that it looks to be the only major automaker to report sales increases for all of 2008. Meanwhile, many major industry players are reporting dramatic declines today, and according to the AP.

The picture looks pretty rosy at Subaru, whose top sellers are the Forester and Impreza models (So far this year, Forester sales are up 34 percent, thanks to the recent launch of the 2009 model.)

So how did Subaru come out on top? As Marketing Daily points out, it's a "mid-market brand with a limited vehicle portfolio and marketing clout. Considering its budget, which is less than some automakers spend on a single vehicle launch, it's surprising that Subaru was able to stay afloat at all--and do it without offering huge discounts."

Turns out, marketing might have a lot to do with it. Says the publication:

The Cherry Hill, N.J. company has always been something of an anomaly in the U.S. car business: standard features like all-wheel-drive and an airplane-style boxer engine make for great rally racers, but tend to focus sales in the snow states. But the brand, perhaps better known as the wagon of choice for the progressive set, is also in the unusual position of being a non-luxury brand that appeals to those who can afford a Mercedes or BMW.

Seems that's what Subaru is going for. In the story, the company's marketing director describes Subaru's owners as "the types who collect experiences rather than things; they tend to be very environmentally aware and socially involved."