The Minivan vs. The SUV: A Fashion Branding Lesson from Interstate 95
“You know what I just realized?” I say to my husband as we’re cruising down I-95.
“A minivan and an SUV are, like, the same thing… they’re just different shapes.”
“Uh huh…” he replies in his best ‘where are you going with this?’ voice.
“They’re pretty much the same size, they provide the same functions, they’re available in virtually the same colors, and yet one of them is considered ‘uncool’ and designated to ‘soccer moms’ while the other is the vehicle of choice by rich athletes, Hollywood stars and rappers.”
“Okay…” (Clearly over this conversation.)
“So, how did it get this way? I mean, why don’t we see Jay-Z driving his kids down Rodeo Drive in a Dodge Caravan?”
“Uh, I don’t know…? Because Beyonce likes Escalades?”
And so it started — another internal dialogue from yours truly about branding and marketing.
When I started writing about this I googled ‘SUV and minivan branding’ to see what would come up.
It was no surprise that both versions of vehicles were intermixed in various lists of “Top 10 vehicles for families” and “Best cars for hauling your kids in 2017.”
I’ve never purchased a minivan or an SUV myself so I don’t personally know what makes buyers choose one over the other.
I’m sure that gas mileage, backseat DVD sets and trunk space all play a role in the decision making — but this post isn’t actually about cars.
It’s about perception.
In any purchase we make, we as consumers are consciously or subconsciously making a decision based on the “aspirational.”
[X product] will make my life easier.
[X product] will make my life more beautiful.
[X product] will make me appear a certain way to my friends / family / co-workers.
Whether you’re purchasing a car for tens of thousands of dollars or a piece of clothing for much less than that, the company selling it to you has the pressure of making you feel a certain way about that purchase.
As small business owners, the pressure on you is no different.
In every marketing decision you make you should be asking yourself, “How is my product being perceived by potential customers?”
And more importantly, “Who is my target market, truly?”
Because if you’re trying to be the SUV when you’re really the minivan, then you’re doing yourself, your product and your company a disservice.
And if it’s the other way around, then you’re also missing the mark.
As the past several decades have shown, there’s a market for both — and the apparel industry is no different.
Your job is to get clear on who you are, who you want to be and to find your place.
Because, let’s face it, the last thing you want is to end up as the PT Cruiser.