Trading Down Brands: Diluting Brand Meaning

There appears to be something in the drinking water at SAAB and BMW:

Yesterday's news paper (yes, I'm a dead tree media reader, too!) carried an article about the new budget priced Subaru Impreza based SAAB 9-2X (here and here. Way to ruin the mystique of the brand ... assuming it wasn't ruined when GM bought the brand.

Now, InfluxInsights comments on the dangers BMW faces with their the budget 1 Series.

Of course Daimler-Chrysler set the in motion the dilution of the Mercedes brand a couple years ago.

Where will this lead? Will it extend the brand in a way that makes it more attractive? I doubt it. Given the unfavorable reviews of these products, I sense that this strategy threatens the core of the brand in a way crippling way; that these examples represent attempts to push product into meanings counter for those for which they stand. Threaten the meaning, weaken the brand story, weaken the brand. This creates further opportunities for Toyota and Honda to move ever further upscale. If they do, I suspect they will persist in their prior wisdom and launch the ultra brands under new nameplates: new meaning, new story.

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