Back in 1935 the members of the Press were invited by an enthusiastic British entrepreneur called Bill Lyons to witness a new kind of automobile design – The Swallow Sidecar’s Jaguar. Similar in shape to a Bentley it was elegance, style and power personified into an extraordinary design that comes around once in a lifetime.
As a product it had everything going for it. As a brand, it was a question of the right vehicle with the wrong name for the times. Following the outbreak of war, the company was compelled to drop the ‘SS’ part of the brand and concentrate instead on ‘Jaguar’.
Over the years, like the animal, the brand was marketed as being sleek, sophisticated and nimble. It became synonymous with a Great Britain of elegance adventure and cheeky ‘get up and go’.
Think of James Bond and you think of Jaguar. Think of 1960s London ‘naughty but nice’ gangsters and you think of Jaguar. Recollect Inspector Morse – Jaguar…
However, whilst other car brands maintained the pace, Jaguar, as brand, was left to cruise at a more refined pace in the slower lanes. Research shows Jaguar buyers are older than the average luxury car shopper. So whilst 50 somethings still recall with a wry smile and a happy sigh the brand’s heritage, younger drivers turn their attentions to newer meaner ‘muscles’ of the road.
Ford acquired the brand in 1989. Now it’s being sold along with the Land Rover brand, to India’s Tata Motors in a deal that will make the struggling U.S. automaker- roughly a third of the price it originally paid for the two luxury brands.
If Tata want to make a go of their purchase, (something that alluded Ford) they are going to have to re-think the brand’s perception. For whilst older drivers are only concerned with what’s under the bonnet and the feel of veneer interiors, younger road warriors will be equally concerned with what’s in their heads – in other words, ‘brand perceptions’. To change such perceptions will take the cunning of a jaguar agility of a leopard and broad views of an eagle.
The race is on to become the new Kings of the luxury brand car market… If the new owners get it wrong, it will be a case of ‘Ta-ta’ to a once in lifetime missed opportunity.