It was hardly surprising that automobile sales started to revive worldwide, post the Covid-related lockdowns. That was in large part due to China’s fast recovery from the pandemic. In luxury automobiles particularly, the Chinese market has a huge effect, in addition to US and Western Europe.
This, accompanied by a general preference for SUVs for the past decade or more, would have benefitted Land Rover significantly. That said, Land Rover is not without competition, even though I like to say that for the kind of vehicle the Land Rover is, it really is peerless.
For over a decade, and ever since Tata Motors acquired Jaguar and Land Rover, it is Land Rover that has led the way, recording higher sales and profits in nearly all its important markets. The latest quarterly and annual earnings report for JLR mentions that for the full year, they managed to sell 439,588 vehicles (retail) in FY21, down 13.6% due to Covid, but China was a bright spot. Sales there grew 23.4% year on year. Land Rover too did particularly well, thanks to the new Land Rover Defender selling 16,963 units in Q4 and 45,244 units for the full year. What I found surprisingly low is the EBITDA margin, at 2.6%.
As I have written on my blog before, JLR itself is embarking on a new journey, having brought the two brands together under a single corporate entity. They have also outlined a new futuristic vision for themselves which I have also written about, and shared my thoughts on a corporate brand strategy and brand campaign for the company.
In this new, envisioned future, connected, electric and mobility as a service will play a significant role. Whether or not autonomous vehicles gain traction, we are going to witness quite a change in the way we commute and travel by road. And it will apply equally to all automobile companies and all brands, even within the luxury segment. Because no matter the technological disruption and changes, and no matter what innovation companies engage in, all companies and brands face a similar future.
Therefore, the brand becomes all-important. What will differentiate one automotive brand from another will not merely be technology, or features, or style. It will be the brand and what it stands for. Tesla had a huge headstart in the premium electric car segment, which explains its success. However, the day will come when Tesla too will have to differentiate itself as a brand, when there are many more players in the category and there is little difference between them in terms of product features.
Which is why, in order to differentiate JLR as a company from the rest, I had suggested positioning it as a British luxury sports classic that takes you to a future-perfect world. Now, in this piece, I would like to share my thoughts on Land Rover as an automotive brand and how it can refresh its brand positioning and image, while transitioning to the future-perfect world. I say “refresh”, because Land Rover has a fairly distinct image already in the minds of consumers, especially SUV owners, unlike Jaguar which suffers from lack of a clear positioning and image.
In the brand strategy and ideas document that I have written for Land Rover, I have taken into consideration the new corporate vision for the company, JLR, the competitive landscape, the kind of target customer we should be addressing and the brand promise that will help them believe in the “Above and beyond” positioning of Land Rover. I believe that Land Rover’s competition are not SUVs from BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz, and you will discover why as you read on.
The attempt is to create an imagery for the Land Rover brand that is larger than life, as far as road journeys help to describe the Land Rover owner. And it is based on the insight that man needs the wilderness, in order to live in the city. So, even as we are addressing wealthy, urbane and successful individuals, we appeal to the explorer, discoverer, vacationer, adventurer in them that feels the need to go above and beyond.
You can read about my strategy and ideas for Land Rover by visiting the page, whose link is below. Along with TV adverts, there is a print campaign and suggestions for how to use the digital medium. All this will, of course, have to work in tandem with the direct marketing campaign that I had already shared earlier on my blog for Overlanders, the exclusive club (online and offline) of Land Rover owners worldwide.
May the Land Rover tribe flourish and grow!