Cadillac to Launch CTS Coupe and Wagon, Audi A3-Fighter in EU

Cadillac a brand of luxury vehicles and owned by world’s largest automaker, General Motors–maker of popular auto parts like GM bumper brackets, thinks that it has made a winner with its new CTS and would like to expand the CTS franchise by adding wagon and coupe variants. The strategy employed by Cadillac is not different from that employed by BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi which build wagon and coupe variants to their entry level sedans. Such move by Cadillac hopefully will make the CTS become more appealing to a much broader range of buyers especially in Europe.The next question now is: what is to become of Europe’s only Cadillac BLS? The BLS is built based on the versatile Epsilon architecture however compared to the Epsilon, the front-drive BLS lacks the sporty handling and powertrains needed to become a worthy opponent of the BMW 3 Series fighters in Europe. The CTS on the other hand is perceived to be closer to the 5 Series and E-Class in size and most likely to end up competitive in the European market.According to some GM insiders, the automaker is contemplating on switching the BLS to a smaller front-drive platform used for Opel,Vauxhall, and Saturn Astra. The Astra has the powertrains and suspension tuning which qualifies this Caddy as a sporty entry-level model to compete with Audi’s A3, Mercedes-Benz B-Class, and the BMW’s 1 Series.Here are some of GM’s soon to be launched models:o CTS Coupe- scheduled for 2010 model year based on the new CTS sedan but will have some minor facelifts. Coupes are typically fashion cars with sales plunging after the first model year. The Mercedes CLK and BMW 3 Series Coupes have been very successful in changing the trend. But of course, a convertible version is very much welcomed since it will be much easier and a Z06 powered CTS -v coupe could be a potent M3-killer.o CTS Wagon- these are basically designed for the European market but Cadillac is hoping to sell a few thousand of such in the United States particularly to architects and other design leaders. The CTS Wagon is scheduled for the 2009 model year. It will be equipped with a fast “shooting brake” roofline, which convert it into a bigger hatchback compared to the over-equipped, updated Buick Sportwagon.o Baby Caddillac (?) – the present Astra three-door hatchback is 168.9 inches placed on a 102.9 inch wheelbase, while Audi’s A3′s 165.5 inches is on a 101.5 wheelbase—the opportunity for Cadillac to do the same is present but they have to move quickly since new products are already lined up for production.

Product Marketing – Summarized Concepts Describing the Roles of the Product Marketer

Peter Drucker, author of Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, stated that “the aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself”. IT marketing agencies, whether as a department within a larger company or a private company altogether, have a responsibility to promote products specifically related to the IT industry. It has been proven time and time again that market-driven technology companies are more profitable than those not driven by the market. In these types of organizations, marketing managers are the center pieces that connect the programming or development teams, advertising teams, and sales teams. Managers in IT marketing agencies accomplish this by identifying and quantifying market needs, and then they rely on the product development team to find a solution for that need. The advertising team communicates the newly discovered solution through promotion, and the sales representatives assist the customers through the purchasing process. The position of the marketing manager is critical in the product development or re-launch cycle and involves an intricate system of research, analysis, strategizing, planning, and execution.

The first step for the marketing manager in IT marketing agencies in the product development cycle is to perform an extensive market analysis, both in quantitative and qualitative formats. Research should focus on the competition, the market, the specific product, and the customers. The marketing manager must fully understand the competition and where each competitor is positioned in the market. With that information, he or she would need to ask whether or not the company can distinguish itself in the market and articulate that distinction clearly to customers. Marketing managers often use a tool called SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. This tool is helpful in determining the company’s and competitors strategic positions in the marketplace. Additionally, this tool will assist the marketing manager in identifying potential unmet needs or problems that customers currently face in the industry. In doing so, the marketing manager could potentially uncover additional products or services the company could offer to position themselves more strategically in the market.

Research conducted by IT marketing agencies should also focus on specifically what customers think about the company’s products. To find this information, companies can conduct qualitative and quantitative market research. Oftentimes, quantitative market research can be done through third party vendors who specialize in collecting and compiling data from the market about a company’s product. Often, quantitative research involves analyzing the performance of the product through predetermined ratios or data (profit, sales in comparison to competition, customer satisfaction surveys, determining percentage of market share, etc.). Qualitative research should be done in-house by IT marketing agencies or departments within a company and typically involves asking open-ended questions about the industry, product, company, and competitors to gather more information about the product line and its position. For example, the customer could be asked which company they look to in identifying market trends or why they chose to purchase a certain product.

Once the analysis of the product, market, competition, and company is complete, a strategy for the product should be formulated by the managers in IT marketing agencies using the data collected. The goal should be to find the type of solution that requires the least amount of investment in technology but has the greatest positive impact on fulfilling the customer’s needs. Whether a product is new or existing, certain decisions will have to be made in this step using the information compiled in the research phase. It is at this point that pricing decisions are typically made and managers determine what pricing would be effective based on the target market position and competitive analysis. The development, marketing, and sales teams must fully understand the price and how it was calculated. They must also understand the inherent value of the product and why customers should be willing to pay the decided-upon price. A report should be compiled by IT marketing agencies that articulates clearly the lessons learned from the data collected and the target goals for market position, revenue, and market share. The risk of the investment or product modifications should be clearly defined as well, with targets for potential gains and potential losses based on price point and sales forecasts. Additionally, the decisions made in the strategic write-up should include statements about how the company will produce the new or re-launched product and the benefits/drawbacks of those choices. Buying a simple technology versus partnering with an outside company to build the product, for example, will have large impacts on the future decisions of the company and its strategic position. In making these decisions, core competencies should be considered along with strategic position and cost of investment.

After the overarching strategy is defined clearly and understood by the entire product development team, a firm plan for execution should be developed. This plan should clearly describe what problems the product will solve, what the position of the product is in the market, what the value of the solution is, and what makes the product unique. Next, a sales process should be defined that will fit with the product type market position, and customer expectations. Marketing plans should be developed and should define how the company is going to reach potential customers. Existing customers, potential customers, and competitors’ customers should all be considered when creating a marketing plan. Marketing managers in IT marketing agencies should also consider the marketing mediums through which information will be passed and which will have the highest impact on sales. Additionally, marketing managers should include in this plan a process for customer retention and ensuring customer satisfaction. This is especially true if the product relies on recurring revenue or product upgrades/add-ons. A specific “launch” plan should be laid out that defines how the product will be revealed to the public and how the product will be launched within the organization. Included in the launch should be definitions of who the stages of customers will be. Who are the “early adopters” in the market, and how can we tell them about our product? How can we provide a platform for the early adopters to promote our product once they have used it? Finally, product marketing managers in IT marketing agencies should partner closely with technical managers to make sure that staff is well-versed in the market research. It is important that the technical sales force understand the technical background of the product and also the market data compiled. In being trained on this information, the technical staff will be better equipped to describe the product benefits as perceived by the market. Since the relationship between the product marketing manager and technical managers should be strong and effective, the marketing manager should have a clear technical background. He or she should be able to follow the technical manager when conversing about the details of the product development process and should be able to understand and describe technical concepts.

As described in the processes above, the position of the marketing managers in IT marketing agencies are extremely critical to the product launch and development phase, as well as to the maintenance of existing products. These concepts are critical to the success of any company’s product lines. It would be foolish to suggest a specific marketing strategy or claim a complete overhaul is necessary while ignoring all the research that has been completed up to this point. Rather, it would be wise to review this research extensively and speak to some of the current or previous customers to gain a better understanding of what needs to be accomplished or changed. It is not necessary to become an absolute technical expert on the product. Rely on the company’s technical experts for this information. However, in a position like this, the product marketing manager would be required to be a market expert. One could accomplish this by following the above outlined processes.

Is Your Product Packaging Newsworthy?

I see hundreds of releases on product packaging every week. For the most part I read the headline and say to myself “who cares.” That in itself is very telling because I am a packaging junkie and I’ll read almost anything that has to do with packaging.

Recently, mainstream media coverage of the packaging industry has been more in-depth than usual. I see dozens of articles about packaging each week. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the news articles deal with negative perceptions of packaging and its influence on society. From bottle water to excess packaging the packaging industry is getting a bad “wrap.” You can help change all that by portraying your product packaging in a positive manner.

So how can you get your product seen by the media in a more favorable light? Make sure that your packaging is connected to one of the more popular news trends or consider what the media will be covering outside of the obvious “breaking” news items unless of course you have a product that can “connect” to the most current story.

Start thinking about your product and how it can connect with the media coverage. A few examples of topics the media will be covering in the future include:

· Any thing to do with diets, weight loss or healthy eating.

This topic perennially becomes newsworthy as the holiday season approaches. This topic also offers opportunities for coverage in niche publications too, such as woman-oriented or fitness publications.

· Products that are geared around breast cancer or the Fight For The Cure.

The media is giving more and more coverage to this topic every year. Pink packaging abounds. But even if your packaging isn’t pink you can still piggyback of the media spin.

· Products that are marketed to or designed for the 50+ generation.

The “boomers” topic is getting substantial media play in virtually every type of publication. If you are marketing in this space, contact a few publications and find out what they will be covering in the next issue.

· Look for media spin on anything to do with the environment, recycled materials and bio-based materials.

The environment is hot right now, so this topic is definitely worth getting excited about. I just judged a brand new packaging competition for the Produce Marketing Association and one of the biggest categories was sustainable or environmentally friendly materials. If I was the winner of that category I’d be all over the media with my product packaging.

· Seasonal holiday innovative packaging.

Not your old holiday standbys but something really unique and creative. I always recommend thinking about secondary uses for your product packaging. The holidays are a great time for “keepsake” product packaging

· Investigate a pitch less commonplace to the media.

For example, recently I read about deli labels featuring CBS’s new prime-time lineup are the network’s latest attention-grabbing marketing plan. What a great concept. I’d be using this idea for every holiday promotion.

By tying your product into a hot topic or trend, you can help counteract negative publicity about the industry such as the upcoming Consumer Reports “Oyster Awards” articles which condemn product packaging every Christmas holiday. So, keep your eyes on the look out for ways and opportunities that will paint your product packaging to the media in a favorable light and not portrayed as too much, excess or over packaged.

Read my weekly newsletter Packaging News You Can Use too. Each week I pick an issue that is either getting media coverage or will be in the near future. Look at me as your prognosticator or forecaster.