What does the perceptual map say about the Saturn Astra? What should Saturn do and what marketing strategies should it use to achieve its objective?



In 1989, James Hardie Siding Products launched a line of fi ber cement home siding products. The product was guaranteed against rotting or cracking for 50 years and had a warm, textured look that vinyl siding could not match. For most of the next decade, Hardie tried the traditional “push” approach of selling the product to builders, remodelers, and home improvement centers with ads and product demonstrations.

Unfortunately, builders did not like the siding. It was heavy, was hard on saw blades, and showed any fl aws in a poor frame job. In addition, there were other fi ber cement sidings available, so a builder or home improvement center that decided to use or carry the product would frequently buy on price.

In the late 1990s, Hardie’s USA President Lewis Gries decided to build a brand image for the siding, which was named Hardiplank. The project began with a very small budget of $500,000. The head of the ad agency chosen for the project stated:

The fi rst step was to do some research to find out what homeowners thought about the building materials used in their homes. Our assumption was that siding was a lowinterest category but that turned out to be incorrect.

The research revealed that people are very emotional about their homes. When one focuses on what building materials provide, such as safety, security, beauty, and warmth, rather than what they actually are, home buyers and remodelers care a lot. This led the team to shift from a pure push (selling to builders and retailers who would then sell to home buyers) to more of a pull strategy (selling to home buyers who would then demand the product from builders and retailers).

Advertising was shifted from home building trade publications to lifestyle magazines, such as Southern Living, Sunset, and Coastal Living . The ads emphasized the emotional appeal of houses made with strong, weather-resistant materials. Trade ads were used to explain this positioning and emphasized the interest that would be generated on behalf of builders and remodelers.

Hardie’s sales force also had to be trained. Historically, they had called on purchasing agents and talked price and delivery schedules. Now they needed to reach the marketing directors of major homebuilders and communicate the value this product and its emerging reputation could provide to their sales programs.

Another major effort was to put Hardiplank on model homes, in “dream homes” promoted by the lifestyle magazines, and in builder design centers. While Hardiplank had to compete against wood siding and other fiber cement brands, vinyl was perhaps its strongest competitor. It lasted longer than wood, and builders liked it because it was easy to install. However, it did not look or feel like wood. So Hardie built displays that placed vinyl and Hardiplank side by side and encouraged consumers to do not only a visual comparison but also a “tap test.” Unlike Hardiplank, vinyl is thin and rattles when tapped. According to Louis Sawyer, CEO of Hardie’s advertising agency

Vinyl siding met the functional requirements, but not the emotional ones. Our ads and displays spoke directly to the affluent baby boomer audience, and they appreciated the difference immediately.

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