Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Changing Brands

Did I jump ship – or was I pushed? Have I fallen out of love or just found a new object of my affections? Well, you decide, because I did change the brand of car I drive.
I wrote somewhere that I’d call myself “middle-aged” if I planned to live to 120. So it’s utterly wrong to inform you I’m having a mid-life crisis. A couple of photos tell the tale. Okay. So the top photo shows you where I’ve been.
The photo just above portrays where I am now. Heck of a change, isn’t it? This is a 2009 Scion xB in Black Sand Pearl. While I’m typing this, I’m on the Scion website, listening to a remix of Acid Life…not something I expected myself. Still, music (Scion CD Sampler Vol. 22, however techno-funky) makes it a bit easier to tell you why I changed to this oddball, toaster-shaped Toyota sub-brand from a Cadillac.

Reason 1: A change of environmental footprint. I was lucky to be getting 18 mpg in the city with the 2003 Caddy. At a minimum, without mods, the Scion is scoring about 25 in the urb. Even though I’ve purchased the Scion new (and there’s sort of a carbon penalty for that), I feel like I’m not going through as much gasoline with the Scion.

Reason 2: Economic reality. I hope the purchase and operating costs of the Scion will undercut the DeVille – though that’s yet to be seen. It’s early days yet. Still, it’s pretty important given what the country is going through right now.

Reason 3: Life-cycle reliability. The Caddy got old; the older it is, the more expensive it is to maintain. It’s kinda like me (no harm, no foul) so it’s not really the Cadillac’s fault. Still, the Toyotas have quite the rep. Barbara’s Prius continues to hum along getting 45 mpg on the highway with nary a mechanical hiccup. So we became a “Twoyota family” last week when I drove the xB into the garage…and the Scion’s control suite is virtually the same as the Prius. I don’t want to downplay the familiarity factor.

Reason 4: Time for a change. I spotted some fantastic custom Scions at the State Fair of Texas – this visual feast planted the idea in my head. The opportunity, at my age, to get involved with a much younger brand (and the Scion is targeted at a demographic at least one generation younger than me, maybe two) has a lot to do with my purchase decision.

Writing on BrandChannel.com back in May, Nichiketa Choudhary pointed out:

Consumer-brand relationships are less about love and more about friendship. Just like our friends, brands shape our experiences. They show up at work, at home, and everywhere in between. Brand thought leaders often use the language of love to describe the consumer-brand relationship; they compare the relationship to marriage, dating, an infatuation, and even a fling. Brands aspire to build a strong love with their customers. However, love can be very volatile and requires a great deal of commitment. Oftentimes, neither the brand nor the customer have this kind of commitment.

I have spent more than a decade as a Cadillac owner. The brand’s Penalty of Leadership ran strong in my family in the first place – and the mark has been my constant status symbol. To paraphrase the old saying, “I wasn’t born into a Caddy – I achieved it.” The DeVilles are superb road cars, plush as down comforters. Service at the local dealership has been attentive and familiar – I made some friends there.

The Cadillac Motor Car Company (General Motors) never betrayed me. If anything, the mark’s designs have become leading-edge all over again. Still, it turned time to question my commitment.

The Scion xB is younger, edgier – and more economical. Maybe I’m fooling myself. But really, it’s time to make new friends. I’m going to a Scion Fright Night at Don McGill Toyota Friday evening. Take along some trick-or-treat candy for the kids. See how the Houston Scikotics have customized their rides and maybe pick up some ideas of my own.

Events overtook the brand of car I drive. So I changed to deal with it. So far, the new badge feels just fine.


S. Reeves said...

some brands have more fun

Richard Laurence Baron said...

The xB's Pioneer sound system is robust: Tonight's winning combination is three (3) gin Martinis and excepts from Wagner's Ring Cycle - Level 60. Not too bad for a "toaster."