Page 5: Communication strategy
The key element of a communication strategy is to send the correct messages through to potential customers in order to develop their awareness and understanding. The launch of the MGF was to be viewed as more than just another new car launch. It was to be viewed as the re-emergence of the famous MG marque in its truest form, an affordable two seater sports car. The modernity of the design and style speak for themselves, but there are a number of MG cues on the exterior, such as the headlights, grille and badge which are clearly from the MG stable.
In June 1994, market research was undertaken in the UK, France, Germany and Italy to try to understand the MGF’s likely unique selling propositions, in order to develop a European communication strategy. It was found that there were no major differences in perceptions of the MG marque, except in the UK. Here, MG is regarded as familiar, whilst in Continental Europe, although MG is a more distant memory, it is held in much higher esteem.
Prior to the product being revealed, the strategy was that the company would continue its ‘no comment’ stance. The product was finally revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1995 and was accompanied by a press statement and product briefing. During September 1995 an International press event was held for key journalists in the markets where the MGF was to be sold. At that time, press packs were released to a wider audience.
Overseas, MGF launches followed product reveals at the major motor shows, including Tokyo, in order to maximise PR opportunities. Throughout this time, press statements were issued to maintain its high profile. Press demonstrators were available for the local press ahead of product launches.
It was important for Rover to make sure that it chose the most appropriate route through to the consumer. Although Rover dealers are able to sell lower priced volume products successfully, they were inexperienced at marketing niche products. It was felt that a new approach to franchising would be necessary if the MGF was to get the highest level of focus. From a customer’s viewpoint, the following criteria were essential from a dealership:
- a sales person must be knowledgeable about the car and be able to give guidance on areas such as insurance.
- ability to view and test drive vehicle without delay.
- a dealer should be well recognised as having an MG franchise and be able to supply support literature.
- a dealer should supply a full after sales support service.
It was decided to franchise the car selectively, laying down a number of minimum standards such as a trained sales specialist, point of sale (POS) merchandising, trained service technicians, to which the successful dealer would need to comply. The right to distribute the MGF would follow the submission of a business plan. A different approach to selling was important when distributing a car with such a unique heritage.