Skoda’s brand presence in Australia has surprised the local office by growing much faster than they expected.
When the badge launched here late in 2007, they were aiming at a brand awareness of 60 per cent within two years, at a stage when they would have a range of additional models.
They’ve hit that mark six months early, and with mainly only the Octavia model to work with. Although the quirky Roomster people mover has been on the market here, it hasn’t had a sales impact, moving just 66 over the whole of 2008 and lagging behind that momentum this year.
“We’ve virtually had just one model, with a few variants, since launch – which is not ideal,” the carmaker’s local head, Matthew Wiesner says.
“So our brand awareness hitting this level, this early, is much better than expected.
Wiesner says that because Skoda’s limited range has not been able to rely on the exponential effect of having vehicles across a range of segments, there should be further boosts as they bring new models – like the large passenger Superb sedans being launched this week, and the Yeti SUV slated for next year..
“What generally will drive this further will be when you launch new product into new segments you don’t compete in — your awareness rises more then. There’s an exponential effect.
“If you don’t have product in a certain segment you’re going to miss out on chunk of people, for a start.
“And the ‘early rejecters’ (those who consider the brand but defer from buying) – a lot of that response is driven by segment spread.
“So we are surprised by how well we’ve managed to cut through into reasonably good awareness numbers.”
Wiesner says that as the badge’s profile is growing, the proportion of ‘rejecters’ is steadily decreasing.
“The early rejecters were the most frustrating part for us and the dealers. They would go through the normal process and then run out of reasons not to buy,” he says.
“They would be putting all the right ticks against the product, but then it would come down to ‘maybe not this time’.
“They would see the brand as being ‘a bit quirky’, they ‘just can’t be sure’ and ‘it’s a big investment’.
“They’re the people you see the second time around, and now we have more product in the market we can talk to them better. It’s all about being heard.
“The only thing that will fix that is spending time in the market. What we need to do is prove ourselves, do it well, get the products right.
“We just need to prove the brand here to stay, it’s a bloody good brand, and has a lot to offer.”