It can mean different things to different people but the original car manufacturer that firmly associated their brand with Security was Volvo. The original Volvo estate cars were unremarkable cars technically but were firmly targeted at the suburban family (especially the Mum) with young kids, dogs and large amounts of grocery shopping to collect. Volvo realized that the one thing a Mum wanted (and the Dad wanted to be sure of while he was at work) was that the car would get his family home safely from the school pickup, and that was the reputation that Volvo traded on. Until the competition responded and various governmental labs started providing objective safety data, the Volvo reigned supreme as the suburbs favourite second car.
Now we are clearly in Porsche territory. The Porsche 911 has been the ultimate performance car for car enthusiasts for nearly twenty years. When I have been in them I have found them uncomfortable and impractical for the city driving that I do 90% of the time. However I did buy a little 924 as a second car when I was having one of my mid-life crises. The customer who is part of the target market for Performance Cars accept discomfort and lack of practicality, as they understand it is required for ultimate performance. They characterize more every day drivable sports cars as “boulevard cruisers”.
This really can be difficult as the Appearance somebody wants to project can vary enormously. Someone who buys because of the need for an Appearance benefit is asking the product, the car to tell the world something about them. A middle class businessman may want a Mercedes to project success, a “hippy” if they still exist may drive a Volkswagen Beetle, and an environmentalist will drive a Toyota Prius.
This human need is catered to by many car manufacturers; to a European many American cars are positioned this way. I remember one of my managers early in my career drove a Renault when all his peers had chosen BMWs and when I asked him why he said the car seats were more – Comfortable.
The whole class of small city cars is targeted at this need. Adverts that prominently state mileage statistics are targeting this benefit need, promotional prices target the need for a deal.
Durability or Reliability (you have to pay something for an acronym!). Until their embarrassing series of recalls recently the basic benefit or brand value that Toyota targeted was reliability. To combat this Korean car manufacturers have offered 5 Year Warranty to project confidence in their Durability and reliability.
So this is the toolkit. Practice on your own with different products. I remember on my first sales course I had to present to the class the benefits of an ashtray.
So from the bottom:
- Products have feature
- Feature give rise to differences
- These differences allow you to communicate benefits that can be Emotional, Generic, Specific and Quantified
- Benefits can be communicated as a Value Proposition which is the highest expression of a benefit or a combination of benefits
Although this tool allows you to do sophisticated Product Analysis or Positioning, one of the most important issues to remember is keep your benefit statement short and relevant. If you think about the Security need there is no more powerful benefit statement than to just look the guy in the eyes and say “this car gives your family the best chance to walk away from an accident compared to any car in its price category”.
Now you have mastered all this, the most important thing to remember is value propositions and benefits are irrelevant unless you understand The Customer. In the examples above you can accurately communicate the Performance benefits of a Porsche and you could be telling the Suburban Mum something she is not interested in, or even offending a Toyota Prius driver. The Customer truly comes first in selling.