Subaru’s breezy persona has helped the company earn many loyal fans, especially in the Northeast and Northwest regions. Subaru is a popular choice for areas like these, thanks to its signature vehicles with all-wheel-drive. However, Subaru’s recent success has to do with another territory.
Subaru and the Sunbelt
Ten years ago, Subaru was on a mission to take its success to the next level, but to do that, it had to focus on another region﹣the Sunbelt. Subaru defined this region by 13 states, including Georgia and Florida. This designated area also consists of more populated states such as Texas and Southern California.
Even though the carmaker had many retailers throughout the Sunbelt, it was largely missing out on sales here, as AutoNews reports. In 2010, Subaru said about 15.4 percent of its sales attributed to the Sunbelt.
“At that point in time, there wasn’t a brand more geographically skewed, in terms of its sales and where we sold cars and where we didn’t sell cars, than Subaru,” said Jeff Walters, Subaru of America’s senior vice president of sales.AutoNews
‘Maintaining the Love’
Walters also said that for Subaru to grow, the company had to be more competitive in the South specifically. To appeal more to drivers down South, the carmakers launched the Maintain the Love program. This complimentary maintenance program takes care of two years of routine maintenance.
“We wanted to make sure that we would be doing everything we could to get that customer back and serviced at that store with complimentary maintenance,” Walters said. “If you could generate that service loyalty, hopefully that would go a long way to keeping the purchase loyalty.”AutoNews
Subaru’s plan to increase customer loyalty in the South started to pay off rather quickly. By 2014, the Sunbelt amounted to 20.4 percent of sales. Fast forward to 2020, and the region makes up 26.8 percent of sales. There are now nine Sunbelt merchants in Subaru’s top 25 for new-vehicle purchase volume. Ten years ago, there was only one.
A bright future
Even Sunbelt auto dealers were surprised by the growth in sales. Fifteen years ago, a Subaru Austin owner went from selling 20 to 30 new vehicles monthly to about 250 a month today. Concurrently, Subaru saw 12 years of consistent growth.
But the steak ends in 2020, due to the ongoing pandemic. The company’s initial goal for 2020 was to sell 725,000 vehicles; the year’s forecast is about 585,000. Still, Subaru is focused on achieving growth where it can. The company wants to increase Sunbelt sales to 30 percent of its business.
In addition to the Sunbelt specific strategy, the carmaker’s expanded product lineup also attracted more buyers. Subaru’s three-row SUV, the Ascent, better competes with the large trucks and SUVs famous down South. The redesigned Forester and Outback crossovers garnered new fans too. The Crosstrek subcompact SUV has also become a hit.
“We have so many more people, as a percent, that are new to the Subaru family,” Walters said. “Now we’re going to have to work especially hard to keep them in the Subaru family.”AutoNews