Car sales are continuing to tank due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. But some car brands like Buick were already in a tough spot even before the pandemic. Buick is now basically the black sheep of the General Motors family. It’s a luxury brand, but obviously not on the same level as Cadillac. Buick also lacks the widespread appeal that Chevrolet has. Since its near-death in the early 2010s, Buick has been on a comeback tour, but drivers are still largely uninterested.
Understanding Buick’s old history
Before we get into Buick’s current stance in the market, it’s important to understand Buick in the context of American history. Buick is the oldest, active car brand in the U.S. so it does know a thing or two about surviving. The brand was established in 1908, the same year that cars became more accessible to the general public.
For the most part, Buick was always presented as an affordable luxury car brand but the quality of the vehicles just didn’t match up. Up until the 2000s, Buick models were low-quality and largely unattractive. The car brand also specifically targeted older people for decades and didn’t do much to attract younger buyers which also hurt its sales over time.
Buick’s identity crisis
Now, Buick is undoubtedly better thanks to its redesigned vehicles and high-tech features. The carmaker started to improve as the economy began to stabilize in 2010 after the global financial crisis. Buick continued to see growth from 2011 to 2014. Although, this time period marked also the beginning of Buick’s identity crisis. Their marketing campaigns may have made things more confusing for consumers.
The company released a marketing campaign with the tagline “you don’t know Buick” to highlight just how much the company’s models had changed. One of the most memorable commercials from this campaign was the 2012 LaCrosse commercial with Shaq. Buick tried to show how spacious the 2012 LaCrosse was by partnering with Shaq as their “size expert.” The only problem with this was that Shaq clearly did not fit comfortably in that car.
In more recent Buick marketing campaigns, the brand has another new line “that’s not a Buick.” Yes, we get it. Buick is more modern and improved. But the brand could do a better job of just owning its newer products.
Quarterly sales for Buick are down now which isn’t new. But the large slump we are seeing currently is still largely attributed to COVID-19. In the first quarter of 2020, Buick sold 33,870 units compared to 51,865 units in the first quarter of 2019. This is almost a 35 percent decline.
Sales are low for Buick and general consumer interest has obviously been down for a while. However, Buick does offer some solid cars. Buick’s top-selling model is its Enclave SUV, which actually might be the carmaker’s saving grace. The other two models drivers buy the most out of Buick’s entire lineup would be the Encore crossover and the LaCrosse sedan.
While you could do worse for a new car, the main drawbacks for Buick are the higher base prices and the lack of power. Because of this and its ongoing identity crisis, the carmaker still has a long way to go to gain mass appeal.