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Holden will struggle to shift brand perception | comment

Holden will be trying to shift its image to appeal to women and prestige buyers.

The $25 hamburger shows how much people — some people — are prepared to pay for premium.

In the car world, a prestige badge is becoming more important to buyers — just look at the success of upscale brands such as Audi, BMW and Benz in recent years.

By releasing more affordable models, the German luxury brands have been able to bring buyers up from a mainstream marque.

But it's much harder to convince them a garden variety brand is going upmarket.

Up until dieselgate and recent reliability woes Volkswagen had been able to pull it off — it's mainstream in Europe but upmarket here.

But others have failed. Ford has a strong line-up of European cars but can't seem to get people to pay a premium for them. Opel came, saw and failed to conquer with the same strategy. Now Holden is heading down that path. It is trying to drift away from the Commodore and the Korean product pipeline that has provided cheap but uninspiring cars for more than a decade.

It's reconnecting with Europe for the successor to the locally made Commodore, the new Astra and others.

It's seeking models that can change its image and move the fanbase away from the Commodore that's worked well for Holden since 1978. But it faces an uphill battle. Intent is one thing, but at the moment, its line-up is the oldest of the top 10 brands and its sales are dominated by local products headed for extinction.

Roughly half their sales are Australian-made vehicles and the factory closes at the end of next year. The brand is also struggling to retain customers and has a blokey image.

Attracting cashed-up female premium buyers is a big challenge for Holden.

"After learning 87 per cent of women felt misunderstood by the automotive industry, we've focused on making sure we can address that issue," says Holden marketing chief Geraldine Davys. That won't happen overnight.

Do you think Holden can expand its appeal? Tell us what you think in the comments below.