Stuart Elliott, The New York Times advertising writer, did a nice piece today on the Honda Insight hybrid automobile. The Insight will be available in late March, starting at just under $20,000. For all the ad campaign talk about “democracy” and “a hybrid for everyone,” this advertising campaign is about price. It’s a mistake and a missed opportunity. The campaign is from RPA in Los Angeles.
The allure the hybrid is not the $1,000 above or below the $20,000 price point, it’s in saving fuel, creating less emissions, being forward thinking, and feeling good about it. Hybrid penetration isn’t about the initial car cost – though, if they cost $12,000 they’d be much more common – it’s about making the “late majority” of car buyers believe that driving a hybrid is a normal thing, not an advocacy thing. The late majority wonders if the cars will break down, if their friends will “out” them for being closet liberals, if the cars are peppy enough. These are the big market-moving issues, not price.
In a few years the combustion engine automobile will be the cultural equivalent of the turntable. Why would anyone today buy a non-hybrid car? The campaign should focus on the barriers. Peace!