Case Study – Honda
Honda has been the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer since the 1950’s and is the world’s largest manufacturer of internal combustion engines. They are the world’s 8th largest automobile manufacturer and with the target of reaching 200,000 European car sales per year (up from 132,000 in 2014), improvement in the automobile sector is viewed by Honda as crucial to its success. Sales of Honda cars have halved since 2006 and 2015 was the year in which Honda were looking to shift that trend.
Takahiro Hachigo became the new CEO and as his appointment coincided with the launch of 5 new models in Europe, the automotive sector had an increased internal profile. The launches were some of the most highly anticipated in Honda’s history and this was particularly relevant for the HR-V: it’s new SUV Crossover. The crossover segment is the fastest growing in Europe and the intention is that the HR-V can help Honda make major inroads into this booming class of vehicles.
Renault, a more established presence in this sector, were launching the Kadjar at a similar time, which presented Honda with a natural benchmark against which they could draw comparisons.
Honda knows that they are renowned for efficiency and reliability; 2015 saw them set a Guinness World Record™ for fuel efficiency (i), and they were named as the UK’s most reliable car manufacturer for the ninth consecutive year (ii). These are both influential criteria affecting the likelihood to purchase but as a new player in the SUV sector, to compete with the established brands they needed to create desire amongst the HR-V’s target audience.
The creation of anticipation was one of PRs primary goals. Because there was no marketing activity prior to August 2015, PR was directly responsible for communicating with the right car buying community to create desire, drive interest, and ultimately to drive sales.
Honda has a 1% share of the automotive market in Europe. For the HR-V launch to be viewed as a success, it needed to achieve the same market share in the very competitive SUV segment they were entering; a bold objective.
As a long-term partner to Honda, PRIME’s role was to use analysis to:
- Provide strategic insight for launch strategy and the best media to achieve maximum impact
- Facilitate KPI setting and track success against selected competing models
- Track message penetration throughout 2015 to allow for iterative adjustments
- Link PR successes to Honda’s business objectives – anticipation and increased market share