Buick Looks Outside Comfort Zone

Buick continues to drive new customers to General Motors, with 40% of the division's buyers through the first quarter coming from other auto makers, says the brand's marketing chief Tony DiSalle. Importantly, more takeovers are coming from outside Buick's Midwestern stronghold. We're growing here, in the Northeast, DiSalle tells Ward's at a Buick event tied to the New York auto show. We're starting

Buick continues to drive new customers to General Motors, with 40% of the division's buyers through the first quarter coming from other auto makers, says the brand's marketing chief Tony DiSalle.

Importantly, more takeovers are coming from outside Buick's Midwestern stronghold.

“We're growing here, in the Northeast,” DiSalle tells Ward's at a Buick event tied to the New York auto show. “We're starting to see growth in the Southeast, as well. There is certainly untapped potential in other parts of the country,” such as the South-Central region, Texas and California. There is a lot of upside for (Buick) business.”

However, many shoppers still have a “false familiarity” with the brand, he says. They still are thinking of the land yachts of recent history, rather than today's dynamic sedans, such as the LaCrosse and Regal, as well as the hot-selling Enclave cross/utility vehicle.

“They say, ‘Yeah, I know what Buick is,’ but are mentally carrying around older Buick models,” DiSalle says, admitting his greatest challenge remains putting people in the seats of the brand's new products. “When we do, their consideration goes through the roof.”

It works best, he says, when dealers take the product into their local communities. Buick marketers have plans on that front in the coming months, although DiSalle declines to detail.

“That's really the only way to scale this nationally, for the dealers to take the product out,” he says. “We have some creative stuff coming.”

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