Steering the Buick Image in a New Direction

Kimberly A. Whitler and Gerry Yemen

After years of declining brand image and sales, the Buick team created a new product lineup and improved its customer service experience, and the company had the product awards and service ratings to match. It was seeing corresponding increase in sales and market share, but it was behind competitors on a scale of brand momentum.

Molly Peck, the U.S. marketing director, and her team examined the data to find that consumers still had an old view of Buick; based on these consumer insights, the team formed a cohesive strategy to change consumer beliefs.

The team decided to embrace what was a clear perception gap. Many customers and prospects thought that the new Buick didn’t look like their idea of a Buick, so the team launched a campaign with the lighthearted message: “That’s a Buick?” The strategy and execution worked, and brand momentum climbed, beating many competitors.

Learn more about how analysis plus creativity helped change consumer beliefs and behavior in Darden Professor Kimberly A. Whitler and Senior Researcher Gerry Yemen’s article “An Under-the-Hood Look at Repairs to Buick’s Brand” in the Darden School of Business/Washington Post “Case in Point” series.

The article is based on the case Buick at a Crossroads: Building Brand Momentum (Darden Business Publishing), by Darden Professor Kimberly A. Whitler, Senior Researcher Gerry Yemen and Case Writer Graham D. Wells.

About the Faculty

Kimberly A. Whitler

Whitler is an authority on marketing, with expertise in marketing strategy, brand management, and marketing performance. Her research centers on understanding how a firm’s marketing performance is affected by its C-suite and board.

A prolific writer as well as researcher, Whitler has authored nearly 100 articles related to C-level marketing management challenges... Learn More

Education