Yet both Buick and Harley are doing a tight turn in another sense. They’re successfully moving to swiftly alter the brand image their respective dealerships portray. Buick sales are about 60% higher this year than last as a result of positioning themselves as a youthful, tech-savvy car.
Harley is aiming to augment their male macho image with a bow to the softer feminine direction. Market share for on-road motorcycles is up one percentage point from last year, according to vehicle market analysts R.L. Polk & Co. One percentage point doesn’t seem like much, but when your market share for last year was already 46%, incremental gains are more challenging.
The key to turning your store brand image on a dime is contrast. The shopper psychology underpinning is called Weber’s Law: In the 1830’s, Ernst Weber reported that weight lifters would notice an increase or decrease in the load only when the change was about 20% of the prior load. For 100 pounds, it took a 20 pound difference. But for 300 pounds, it took a 60 pound difference. Experimental psychologist Gustav Theodor Fechner extended Weber’s Law to cover all sorts of human perceptions.
Now Buick and Harley applied Weber’s Law to change brand perception by implementing dramatic differences sure to exceed a 20% threshold in the product and the promotion:
- Last year, Buick introduced a midsize sedan with a sculpted body on the outside and iPod connectors on the inside. A few months ago, Harley began selling the SuperLow model, which features a much lower seat, significantly lighter weight, and more festive color options than past Harleys.
- Buick phased out sponsorship of a major golf tournament and used the funds to promote the Buick Regal at a series of rock concerts, each concert highlighting one or more local bands. Harley’s 650 U.S. dealers have been holding special events to which only women are invited. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that for one set of events, more than 40% of the women were in a Harley dealership for the first time.
Project Your Brand Positively
Use Customer Life Changes to Switch Brands
Combine Flavors for Bonus Effectiveness