A year ago, the Jeep was a hit with the British public, with a bumper crop of jeeps, a lucrative licensing deal, and a loyal following that still adheres to a strict brand loyalty policy.
Today, the iconic Jeep brand has lost nearly 1m sales worldwide and is struggling to retain its brand identity.
The brand’s decline is a major blow for the US carmaker, which is still hoping to regain market share after years of market share losses.
In a new article in the New Scientist, the authors explain why the brand is suffering.
Their thesis is that Jeep is facing a dilemma: sell more Jeeps, or cut back on its brand loyalty.
It’s a tough choice.
The Jeeps are a successful brand that is highly recognisable across the globe, and they have a loyal fan base that is passionate about them, says Philip Boglehead, who led the study as a professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania.
But they also have a problem: the brand has fallen so much that people are finding other ways to buy them, he says.
“There is this huge market out there for cars,” Bogleheads told Business Insider in an interview.
“It’s a very big market.
The car companies are big, the brands are big.
The brands don’t want to take risks, because they know they’re going to be attacked.
They want to be safe.”
The researchers analysed 10 years of Jeep sales data, using data from the company’s internal company website.
They found that the brand was suffering from a combination of factors.
The number of sales of each model, for example, fell by over 1m in the years before the crash.
It has also suffered from a significant drop in sales of the newer, cheaper Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Renegade, which have the highest-selling models in the brand.
The authors note that the rise in sales and brand loyalty of the Renegade model is partly explained by the fact that it was introduced to the market as a “full-size SUV”.
The Renegade’s popularity with Jeep buyers was so strong that the company introduced it as a model with more space for cargo.
The Jeep brand, meanwhile, was hit hard by the downturn in the global economy, which also hurt the brand’s global brand image.
“The brand has had to make significant cuts to its advertising budgets, because the Jeep brand had to go into a period of decline,” Bolets says.
Bogleheads and his colleagues also found that many of the brand loyalty claims the brand made about the Jeep were false.
For example, they found that Jeep sold more Jeep SUVs than it actually sold in the UK and that the number of Jeep owners in the US had dropped to just over 6% from a peak of 14%.
The authors argue that brands must be careful about claiming loyalty when they aren’t actually selling enough Jeeps.
In the end, they conclude that brands should be cautious about claiming brand loyalty even when they are selling as much as they claim.
“This is a real problem for brands,” Boles says.
The researchers have written about the impact of brand loyalty on sales in the past.
In 2010, the company made the news when it reported that its UK sales had fallen by a quarter in a decade, to just $6.5bn.
The report sparked a backlash and many critics criticised the company for being too reliant on the brand for its success.
In 2016, Boglets’ team published another study, which showed that the Jeep brands success had been dependent on the success of the Chinese market.
In the UK, sales of Jeep were up 5% over 2016, while the number and share of Chinese customers had fallen from over 25% to around 15%.
In 2018, the firm published another paper, this time looking at Jeep sales in China.
It found that brand loyalty was “highly important” to Jeep sales.
“A number of the brands that are leading the way in China are doing very well,” Bosehead told Business Insiders.
“The Chinese are very passionate about the brand and want to own it, and brands like Jeep that are doing well in China will have a lot of people buying their products.”
“If you look at China, and the US, they’re the only two countries where you have a brand loyalty problem,” Bopkins says.
And it’s only a matter of time before other countries follow suit.
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