Today I am on a trekking tour, 30 kilometers in an area without Internet, Iphone and without Saab. Which is relaxing, because Saab blogging has risks and side effects. Driving a Saab is one thing… dealing with the topic of Saab every day is another. Because I'm actually not a car person, just a Saab person. Other brands, with a few exceptions, are of little or no interest. Today a small market analysis about our brand from Sweden and the people who drive Saab. But be careful, it's a long article.
In the past few months, I have become more and more immersed in the secret world of the fabulous brand from Trollhättan. I learned a lot about the people who drive Saab ... who they are, where they come from and what they do. You will experience a lot at the front line. One can tell, for example, about the big breaks at Saab.
Saab fate 1998 and 2003
There was a time when Saab built the cars the customers wanted. Then came the time when Saab built the cars the accountants wanted. Now, I'm sure, Saab could once again build the cars we want. 1998 was one of those fateful years. The new Saab 9-5 came and was just a notchback sedan. The Saab 9000, the hatchback offer in the luxury class, was discontinued, and so there was until recently no hatchback in the league.
Audi has seen this gap, made the Audi A7 out of it on a low budget, and the A5 in the class below, earning it the golden nose. Respect to Ingolstadt.
The consequence for Saab? The older men, who could afford the expensive 9000, stayed with them. Hardly anyone switched to the 9-5. The 9000 was driven to the end, then another brand came along. Or the gentlemen retired and moved to Florida. Because notchbacks can all car brands and Saab has, without need, given away a unique selling point in the luxury class.
Example Saab 9-3. With the appearance of the Series II disappeared the hatchback. Many did not want a limousine, so why, the station wagon came very late, and so they stayed with the old 9-3. A holding period of 7, 8 or more years, not uncommon.
The amazing. Many changed after all these years to a new Saab. Not so happy, but at least a Saab. Several readers on the blog have been doing this for the past two years.
Stupid for Saab, because in this time the common driver changes the car twice as often. The Saab driver but only once. Why ? Because Saab did not listen to the customer.
Who drives Saab?
Do we know these sayings: The average XXXXX driver is 35 years old, educated above average and has a well above average income.
Let's forget that again. These are the sayings of the weird marketing fuzzies who want to pretend something that is not, and for the XXXXX we can use any BMW, Audi, Mercedes or whatever.
My private study looks like this:
The Saab driver is above average engaged, because often I get mails from the office at night. There are, and now buckle up, because now come the stereotypes, conspicuously often the following occupational groups including: architects, designers (very good as I have seen), doctors, IT people and freelancers of all kinds and very many from the university sector. So the clientele, which other brands would like.
In addition, many Saab drivers are family people, the Saab is then used as a kindergarten express or school bus.
Saab drivers also seem unpretentious and definitely nonconformists to be. I get emails with Saab stories and pictures. The fans tell me what brought them to Saab, what they do for a living. The 9-5 in the picture is 10 years old and from a financial point of view, the sender could probably afford a new Saab. He doesn't, because he is satisfied with himself, the car, the brand. Something new in our time, because with Audi or BMW drivers, the very latest model at the door seems to be an inner compulsion.
It is now known that Saab has the oldest buyers. I think only the Lexus buyers are older. Here on the blog Saab fans are represented with over 70 years, just like the “Middle Ages”, to which I also belong, and very many around the 20th. With this, the blog also appeals to the buyers of the future, what me happy.
Does Saab have a future?
Let's ignore the media disaster of the last days, which swam over from Sweden to us. Let's forget some questionable processes that make me doubt the meaning of the blog. Suppose Saab has weathered the current crisis and is on good financial, Chinese foundations.
Every day I read very carefully the mails I get from fans and Saab drivers. Again and again are in the last few weeks mails that Saab drivers say goodbye and increasingly switched to Volvo.
Those who go, and many are, go with real regret. No bad word about the brand, but more melancholy. Some could come back in three years. Which will not be easy, because also from Gothenburg come great cars.
Whether the emigrants really come back to Saab, is due to three factors.
Factor 1: On the one hand, Saab has to build cars that customers want. No lukewarm compromises and not so much listening to marketing studies, a look at the brand history and a conversation with customers would be enough. A hatchback would come out, in every class. The 9-3 successor in 2012 will be the beginning.
Factor 2: Secondly, Saab has to be Saab again. More individuality and the marketing money invested intelligently. In 1992 I bought my first new Saab. I received mail from Saab Germany shortly after the purchase. In the package was the Saab Bible “The Spirit of Saab”, a book that you have to read and that was a good investment for Saab.
A week later, a Saab key chain with an embossed number came individually for my Saab. On the trailer was the address of Saab with the request to send this unfree to Saab, if the car key would be lost. Saab would take care of everything else.
After two weeks, the post from the Saab boss came with a business card. Text: ”Are you satisfied? If not, call me. You have my number. ”
If anyone wonders why I've stayed with you so far, now he has the answer. My Saab year was 1992, when Saab laid the foundation for people with heart and mind.
My idea for the German Saab future (yes I know you read in Frankfurt): away with the anonymous call centers, that brings only annoyance. When the time comes, the money will invest in a few employees with Saab genes, or at least an interest in the product. The investment is worthwhile.
Factor 3: Yes, there is still point three. The Saab dealer, and so we are in the emigration of dealers. There is still, I'm glad about it, dealers who are with the heart. The Saab live, as I can read over and over again. These traders stick with it, and no matter how many will end up.
Better few dealers who glow for Saab than many who are only lukewarm.
The three points are not rocket science. Our dream cars are in Trollhättan in the planning. Saab Germany has good ideas and I already know the corresponding dealers. The future is possible.
To all who have survived this long article so far: class!
Have a nice weekend to you all, wherever you are!