Page 4: New products
The first new model born from the alliance between Volkswagen and Skoda was the Felicia. It was essentially based on the Favorit but provided Skoda with a much improved product designed to re-establish the brand and re-educate the general public’s perception of the brand. The Felicia was welcomed into the market and praised by the press and the public.
Since its introduction in the UK in 1995, it has won several industry awards and increasing sales indicate its position as a winner. Not only have Skoda’s new products won awards but Skoda, the manufacturer, was ranked number one in the Top Gear / J.D. Power Survey for customer satisfaction in 1998. All of which has been used to underpin the public relations strategy.
Some significant image achievements were gained from the Felicia. Research showed a +112% feeling that Skoda offered good value for money and +57% that the cars had recently improved. The Felicia’s new target markets showed gains amongst older affluents (+6%), younger family men (+3%) and married working women (+2%). The new Skoda owners were younger, more affluent and more highly qualified - often from managerial and professional occupations.
With four new products to launch, 1998 marked the beginning of a most important year in the brand’s 100 year history:
- April - Facelift Felicia
- May - Felicia Fun
- June - Octavia hatchback
- September - Octavia estate.
Bringing the Octavia to the market
Although the continuing success of the Felicia had steadily improved Skoda’s brand image, Skoda faced its biggest challenge to date with the launch of the Octavia in June 1998. The Octavia was the first Skoda to be based on a Volkswagen Group platform and represented Skoda’s entry into the medium sized car segment, considered to be the most competitive segment.
It was a great leap forward for the much maligned car manufacturer and would undoubtedly have a huge impact on taking the brand image even further along the positive scale. The launch represented Skoda’s commitment to continual product improvement with the Octavia acting as a product and image flagship. It also meant that Skoda had moved from a single product offering in the UK market to a wider product offering.
The greatest benefit of the Octavia is that Skoda has now entered a new segment of the market, attracting new customers. The Octavia range helps Skoda to:
- offer a car to fulfil all household needs. For example, the Felicia could be perceived as the smaller second car with the Octavia becoming the main family car.
- offer more access to new customers who are not currently interested in the specification of the Felicia.
- appeal to the business user market, i.e. as a company car. The Octavia has a similar specification to western competitors and reflects Skoda’s brand values.