I was told this week that one of my colleagues BeneathTheBrand.com is going to be challenging an article I wrote there. I went back and looked at my portfolio, trying to decide what he might be looking to counter. The most controversial of the articles I've written so far was the one on Kia's offering of a $26,000+ trim of their Optima model.
In the piece, I asserted that this was yet another sign of a possible move into the middle of the market by the Korean manufacturer. And, I stated it was a mistake for Kia to abandon their brand position as a maker of economically priced vehicles. Many commenters balked at the idea of offering a handful of “expensive” (by comparison to their other models and trims) is indicative of a move into the middle of the market.
Of course, that’s another point altogether. And, for the sake of the article, I assumed that they are.
To get back to the main thrust of the article, that Kia would be mistaken in leaving its current position, one has to only ask themselves: “What is a Kia?”
The answer is an affordable, small economy car. This is the position that Kia holds, and holds securely. Every car that it produces that does not fit this brand image undermines their hold on the position. And, as (or, if) they move to the middle of the market, they’re going to completely lose the identity customer’s use to define their brand.
End of story.