As a “Land Rover Enthusiast” I recently got an invite to something about the reveal of the new Range Rover Evoque Convertible. Whilst I felt most flattered, they clearly don’t know me very well because I am not in the league of Range Rover prices – but the efficiencies of direct marketing is another topic for another day.
What really got me going was the concept of a convertible – how far the Land Rover brand has stretched and how much the brand form and imagery has changed. When I used to think of Land Rover, I thought of the Camel Man and Kingsley Holgate – I saw images of a tough, rugged, mans-man at the wheel of an equally tough looking Defender. But what was once the icon of the ‘go-any-where’ spirited brand has now been dumped, as has the more affordable entry level Freelander.
Now, with the new Discovery, the Discovery Sport and the idea of a new Evoke Convertible, Land Rover has (in my mind) moved from the territory of ‘Mans-man’ to a far younger, way sexier, ‘Desperate Housewife’.Would I buy (had I the money) an Evoque Convertible? No, Never. Not because I don’t want to be seen as a ‘Desperate Housewife’, but in truth, for me any car, SUV or MPV that I can’t put roof racks onto is useless. However, my wife would absolutely love to have one.
The question here is not whether my wife is a ‘Desperate Housewife’ or not, but rather how far can a brand stretch before its core essence is lost? Will the new marques under the Land Rover badge dent the brand equity or damage sales? Time will tell and the answer will most likely be no; the world is changing and Land Rover is changing with it. Sure, there will always be the ‘purists’ who believe that a brand should remain true to its essence, but time changes almost everything. Think of Porsche – what once was only ever going to be a 2-door high performance sports car for well-heeled boy racers is today also very comfortably; a (very comfortable) high performance SUV; loved I would guess, by many ‘Desperate Housewives.’
Time changes almost everything and everyone, but for now I still need a vehicle that is somewhat more affordable and one that can take roof racks, so I am not about to convert and didn’t attend reveal. Sadly, I feel that the new breed of Land Rover may have moved beyond me, and I would hazard a guess that, were he still alive, the ‘Camel Man’ might feel the same.
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