The intent of this case analysis is to evaluate the buyer decision process the typical Porsche customer undertakes when searching for a new high-performance sports car. The Porsche sports car enthusiasts' decision process is significantly different than that of the Cayenne and Panamera customers, and these differences will be discussed. The factors that contributed to Porsche selling significantly more lower-priced models in the 1970s and 1980s is also analyzed. An explanation of the positive and negative attitudes towards brands like Porsche is provided, in addition to the role the Porsche brand plays in the self-concept of buyers.
Analyzing the Decision Process of the Porsche Customer
The core customer base of Porsche has a self-concept of being exceptional in every area of their lives, from their ability to set and surpass very challenging objectives, to their ability to earn above-average incomes and have exceptional lifestyles as a result. This self-concept revolves around their automobile being a symbol of their level of achievement (Rosecky, King, 1996, pp, 223, 224). The reliance on the auto as the primary means of communicating one's achievements and status in the world become more prevalent the higher the competitive intensity of industries customers are part of (Thanasuta, Patoomsuwan, Chaimahawong, Chiaravutthi, 2009). Not only is the Porsche a symbol of achievement, it is also one of overcoming challenging in competitive, turbulent industries (Thanasuta, Patoomsuwan, Chaimahawong, Chiaravutthi, 2009, pp. 369-372). The decision process for the traditional Porsche buyer puts the attributes of high performance, exceptional agility, strength and affluence at the center of their decision making process. The selection of a Porsche is predicated on these values, combined with the opportunity customize the vehicle to their unique requirements (Cooper, Inoue, 1996, p. 294).
Contrasting Decision Making Processes with Cayenne and Panamera Customers
Where the traditional Porsche buyer is more concerned with the engineering excellence of their vehicle (Petroff, Petroff,1987, p. 44) and what it says about them from an achievement standpoint (Thanasuta, Patoomsuwan, Chaimahawong, Chiaravutthi, 2009, pp. 358, 359), the Cayenne and Panamera customers are looking for the Porsche qualities in a more practical vehicle. From a marketing segmentation and psychographic standpoint, these latter buyers want the Porsche experience yet need the extra room to accommodate where they are in their lifecycles as consumers (Ulrich, 2010, pp. 31, 32). What has made the Cayenne and Panamera so successful is the emphasis both vehicle designs place on the experience of owning a Porsche without the sacrifice of space (Gilmore, Pine, 2002, p. 7).
The decision making processes of the Cayenne and Panamera customers are significantly different than those of the traditional customer base. The focus on speed, agility and engineering excellence are still evident in their decision making criteria, yet they are balanced with the practical needs of families primarily, and second, with those who use their cars to entertain and transport larger groups of people (Ulrich, 2010, pp. 31). The original concept of the Porsche SUV was in fact defined through the customization business the company originally created nearly a decade before the first mass-produced SUV was ever sold (Murphy, 1999). While Porsche has a level of engineering excellence that few car companies do (Petroff, Petroff,1987, pp. 43, 44) their approach to selling SUVs was one of "no comprise" meaning customers could get the same experience and still meet their needs for practicality in a vehicle (Ulrich, 2010, p. 7). Sharing the value of engineering excellence in the vehicles they purchases, both the traditional Porsche customer and new SUV customer varied significantly on the type of experience they wanted. For the latter, the experience was one of luxury, comfort and freedom that more room in a vehicle provides (Ulrich, 2010, pp. 5, 6). Porsche was successful with this strategy because they stayed true to their values of engineering excellence and precision engineering, all contained within a luxurious experience.
Why Porsche Was Successful with Lower-Priced Models during the 1970s and 80s
The aspirational attributes of the Porsche brand are very strong, and led many of the original customer base to purchase one of their vehicles, even if they could not initially afford it. The strength of the Porsche brand is in their reputation for extreme engineering excellence and accuracy (Petroff, Petroff, 1987, 44) which are values many high performance luxury car buyers seek in their vehicles (Lesser, Hughes, 1986, 19). The lower price models did not do…