How Can Your Brand/Product Make a Comeback? This is how Infiniti did it.

by | Mar 19, 2015 | Brand, Strategy | 0 comments

“Although Infiniti operated in the luxury car market, it was nowhere close to competing for BMW, Audi and Mercedes customers. It had a hard enough time occupying a small piece of the Japanese luxury car segment.”

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I have always been partial to Japanese car makes due to their outstanding reliability and value for money. I am particularly fond of Infinitis – no surprise here, since I am a proud owner of one. Nissan’s upscale division occupies a healthy segment of the luxury-car market today. But they might not be around today if it weren’t for their decision to give the BMW 3-series a serious run for it’s money.

If you are old enough, you might remember how Infiniti went from being a car brand that no entry-level exec ever considered, to one that most all wanted to own. How could consumer attitudes change so quickly?

Infiniti before 2002.

 

Infiniti is Nissan’s upscale division. Kind of like Honda/Acura and Toyota/Lexus, only the latter were much more successful than the former before 2002. In that era, Infinities were basically rebadged Nissans with some leather and wood trim. Worst of all, their design was anonymous, bland and dated. Although Infiniti operated in the luxury car market, it was nowhere close to competing for BMW, Audi and Mercedes customers. It had a hard enough time occupying a small piece of the Japanese luxury car segment.

The unexpected comeback...

Infiniti after 2002.

 

All that changed in 2002 with the unveiling of the Infiniti G35 model in both coupe and sedan form. These models were not only beautifully designed, but surpassed the BMW 3 series, the long-standing segment benchmark, in performance. The real value was that this timeless design, power and luxury could be had at a lesser price than the Bimmer. If that wasn’t enough, Motor Trend crowned it the winner of its prestigious Car of the Year award in 2003.

Press praise is one thing, but the best indication that the G35 model revived the Infiniti brand is by looking at its US sales, which was up 600% in 2003 from 2001. So Infiniti went from being a dog brand to a rising star in terms of relative market share in the luxury car segment, all thanks to one product. Their success is ongoing, as they are among the more prominent brands in the luxury car market today.

"Infiniti went from being a dog brand to a rising star in terms of relative market share in the luxury car segment, all thanks to one product."

 

Brand turnarounds can happen in any industry, really. Here are a few examples that come to mind:

  • Apple’s iPod & iTunes
  • McDonald’s McCafé
  • Tesla Motor’s Model S
  • Nintendo Wii
  • Netflix app
  • Lego’s movie inspired toys (i.e. Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc.)
  • Polaroid cameras (currently making a comeback)

How can you learn from Infiniti?

What does it take to change your brand’s market perceptions? You can start by researching competitor offerings; identify what consumers think of your brand and theirs. At the same time, you can survey which product/service/brand attributes they prefer. Finally, you close the gap by modifying your offering, or creating a new one that suits their needs.

This is precisely what Infiniti did. It found that there was a gap in its approach to building luxury vehicles, but that there was also an opportunity to fill a void in the market. Infiniti was the first to best the German luxury automotive benchmark in performance, design and price. Hence, it’s ability to go from undesirable to attractive nearly overnight.

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Meet the author.

Taro Abarbanel-Uemura

Marketing Strategist

Meet Fortified Marketing's founder and lead marketing consultant. Taro loves reading fascinating articles on various marketing-related subjects, just as much as he enjoys writing about them. When he isn’t savouring a latte while working on his newest blog post, he can be found at a coffee shop in Ottawa's Little Italy, or marathoning shows and documentaries on Netflix.

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