Elon Musk’s Successful Tesla launch demonstrates how to build a ‘Green Brand’.

green brand strategy

Finally a green car brand without compromise.
The huge challenge for all ‘Green Brands‘ is to meet or exceed consumer expectations on price, quality and design/functionality allowing those brands to then leverage their environmental credentials as a powerful differentiator. Almost without exception green brands offer-up a compromised consumer proposition where that be quality and price on-par with their competitors, but the functional attributes of the brand are compromised, or the quality and functional design is on par, but the price is higher. Either way, their products rely on the small percentage of the market who are so invested in the environment as to overlook these compromises. What Tesla have done so well is to create a green super brand that exceeds consumer expectations of quality, design and functionality, and now with the release of the Model 3 meets mass market price expectation. This three punch combination leaves the brand’s environmental proposition as the knock-out blow. As all else is equal, why the hell would you not buy a Tesla?

Turns out it took an entrepreneur to disrupt the automotive industry and launch the world’s first genuine green car brand.
It probably should come as no surprise that after years of the big auto brands exploring electric and hybrid cars, it took an entrepreneur from outside the industry to come in and shake it up. Yes Toyota has the Prius which has sold more than 5 million cars since it’s launch 18 years ago. But Toyota is a generic car manufacturer, with many models of car and truck to manage, compromising their ability to focus on the relatively small market of Prius owners. Free from the restrictions that Toyota and GMH face in their businesses, Musk has been free to approach the paradigm of the automotive industry with a challenger mindset.

branding strategy

The smarts to create a sexy car brand.
Had Tesla led with the mass market US$35k Model 3, they would have found themselves with a far more moderate success than by launching the brand with the far sexier Model S. The Model S, which goes for around US$100k has sold a modest 100,000 cars in its first three years. But launching with the Model S has positioned the Tesla brand at the premium end of the market which represented clearly differentiating brand strategy for green cars. The move has painted Tesla with a bright halo of aspiration, engaging the small group of consumers with US$100k to spend and a penchant for environmentally friendly cars. But beyond that they have also piqued the interest of the larger group of environmentally active consumers who have US$35k to spend on a green car, and most importantly they potentially have tapped into a mass market who’s heads have been turned by the stunning Model S, have US$35k to spend, and all things being equal like the idea of an electric car.

automotive brand strategy

What does success look like for Tesla?
For starters almost 200,000 people have slapped down a US$1,000 registration fee to pre-order a Model 3 in the first 24 hours of release with deliveries still 12 months away – a pretty impressive result in any language. The hype is claiming Tesla’s new Model 3 is the auto industry’s’ iPod moment’, the start of a revolution that will kill the combustion engine and take the oil industry with it. And whilst there’s alot of electric cars to go under the bridge before that vision is realised, the first day of Model 3 orders equates to US$17 billion of sales. In an industry struggling to find growth, that’s one hell of a good start.

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