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By Adrian Rushmoremanaging editor, Glass'sAt the beginning of the century customers had the choice of buying any one of 2,000 new models; assuming, of course, that money was no object. By this year the choice has expanded to nearly 10,000, which is a five­fold increase. Yet, over this period registrations have fallen by around 10%. This means that the success, or failure, of all new products is more delicately balanced than ever before. The key ingredients of success are competitive pricing, product differentiation, and most impor­tant of all, brand equity.The dictionary definition of the term brand is an association of meaningful experiences and expectations that make something special or unique. It is the personality that is attached to the inanimate object of a new car. Importantly, consumers relate branding to added value. This means that where a manufacturer enjoys a strong brand by virtue of its name (BMW), or its product (Golf), premium pricing becomes possible.The power of the brand is what gives car manu­facturers the edge. It is behind the reason why the premium brand manufacturers have steadily increased their market share over the past 20 years. The major success stories have been enjoyed by BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi who, between them, have seen their share of the total market increase threefold. An increase in brand equity has gone, hand in hand, with further market penetration. These companies have always promoted an ownership experience through their advertising. Contrast this style of marketing with many of the volume brands who focus their energies on the Used car analysisBrand power is what gives manufacturers the edgeIt's why the premium brands have seen steady market share increase over the past 20 yearsAdrian RushmoreBMW enjoys a strong brand by virtue of its name

merits of particular product features, finance deals and affordable prices. While these campaigns deliver additional sales in the short term they do not convey enough about the wider ownership experience.The power of the brand should not be under- estimated. Most people would believe that a Mercedes or a BMW is more reliable than a Citroën or a Renault. These people would be surprised to learn that this is not necessarily the case. As we all know, discounting is rife on new cars, but few would realise that similar discounts can be negotiated across manufacturers, premium or otherwise. Neither is there very much difference in the useable life of these cars with a similar life expectancy of around 14 years. Many also believe that high sales volumes would sound the death knell for a high image brand. This has been conspicuously refuted by the success of the 3 Series. In most years since 2006, the 3 Series has outsold the Mondeo.There is one other key competitive benefit that the premium brands enjoy. The halo effect of the brand can be migrated to occupy other segments of the market. The executive and luxury sectors have always been dominated by these manufacturers but they have also made significant inroads into the lower medium and MPV sectors in recent years. Also of note are the advances that have been made in the SUV sector, where for the last six years the premium brands have outsold their mass market counterparts. By contrast, the volume manufacturers have found it increasingly difficult to break-out from their territories of the small, lower medium, and upper medium sectors. Although we have been discussing the impor-tance of the brand in relation to new cars, used car performance is inextricably linked. What should not be underestimated is that the effects of advertising and press coverage designed to create new car appeal also influences used car customers to buy second hand examples. Manu-facturers are keen to measure the success of their new car advertising, but overlook the fact that they are also promoting used sales, and more importantly, key messages about the brand. Put succinctly, positive brand values promote more demand and higher prices. Higher prices - or slower depreciation - results in lower owner-ship costs which encourages more demand for both used and new cars. This is the virtuous circle of success.There is no doubt that branding remains an important part of Western culture in spite of the various austerity measures. Those manufac-turers who successfully communicate added value by the core messages of their brand will prosper. However, it is difficult to imagine the market not suffering casualties in the next 10 years in spite of producing technically very good products. New car marketNewsCV Show newsUsed car analysisNewsRecruitmentdigestDealerprofileShowroom'Positive brand values promote more demand and higher prices'A Citroën is not necessarily any less reliable than a BMW despite perceptions