GM has a master plan to boost lagging Buick sales in North America: take the Buick name badges off the vehicles. Makes sense, right? No, no it doesn’t, but GM reportedly is doing it anyway. As Forbes and many others have questioned, this might be the way GM kills off the Buick brand for the Americas.
Buick is a strong brand in China, where consumers view driving one as a sign of prestige and great taste. There’s a story behind that, but here in America they’re kind of forgettable vehicles. We don’t like semi-luxury brands, which is why Volvo is doing better now that it’s moved upmarket, and why more reasonably-priced Volkswagens sell far better. Buick sits in that unfortunate market segment, because making it truly luxurious would step on Cadillac’s toes.
With the Buick name off the vehicles, the only way a non-car person can tell a car or SUV is a Buick is by seeing the Tri-Shield badge. Let’s be honest, most people have no idea what the Buick badge looks like. It’s forgettable, generic, and un-interesting. This kind of move would work for BMW, Mercedes, Honda, and others. It’s a horrible idea for Buick.
In the past, Buick’s marketing efforts have relied on Tiger Woods (not good) and the “is that a Buick?” commercials that highlight the brand’s problem, but do nothing to fix it. Buicks are still the vehicles of choice for many older Americans, an image that keeps younger shoppers away. How much longer will Buick be around in this market? Maybe a few more years?