Saab drivers and Saab. A unique relationship between a brand and its customers widely known for its high amount of loyalty and dedication. Personally, I’m proud of being part of this group of enthusiasts who are continuously Saab spotting on the streets, on television, on the internet and while watching movies, where a comforting glance of a Saab is enough to put a smile on our faces. Enthusiasts who go out and wash their Saabs even when it’s almost starting to rain. Enthusiasts who grin when the sporty performance of their understated Swede leaves its (often German) challenging counterparts becoming smaller and smaller in the rear mirror. Enthusiasts who can just enjoy watching the perfect design of their Saabs.
A love affair
The Saab community is alive and well, dedicated to support and thoroughly enjoy the brand. Examples are well known, such as the SAVE SAAB convoys, the We Are Many We Are Saab events, the collective purchase of DJA 880 for the Saab Car Museum, Facebook groups such as Saab Nuts!, the official Saab Cars (Parts) Facebook page, The Saab Cars Instagram page and an always stunning and inspirering celebration of Saab culture sharply displayed on Saab vs Scepticism. And of course all of the websites that keep track of all things Saab, such as SaabsUnited.
Maybe this relationship is best described by Saab in a great book entitled Made in Trollhättan (2002):
“How come a car from a small factory, in a small city, in a small country far away can attract people all over the world? Perhaps it is the comfort and the driving characteristics that do it? Or the turbo engine and the performance. Perhaps it is because it is so safe. Maybe it is the design that is the attraction. Perhaps all of it. We believe that people who choose a Saab do so because of its personality. We have 0.3% of the world market and it will probably remain in that neighbourhood. Our goal is not to build lots of good cars, but to build fewer great cars. To own a Saab is to belong to a small group of people, all with their own reasons for choosing a Saab. The common denominator is that you have chosen a car that stands out from the crowd. Welcome to a small but exclusive club. We hope you will remain a member for life”. (Thanks to Saab vs Scepticism for the quote).
This idiosyncratic loyalty is a very important asset for the Saab brand. Its an important part of what drives new car sales. And it’s also about the enthusiasts sticking to their trusty Saab, also when for the time being there are no new Saabs available. Saab drivers enjoying and taking care of their Saab. Which is providing a continuing market for Saab Service Centers and Saab Parts as well.
At the moment, negotiations seem to be ongoing about a possible new majority shareholder for NEVS. If we’re lucky, no matter what strategy the possible new owners of NEVS are going to apply (though it seems that a thorough approach is required), it will still take a couple of years at the least before new Saabs come rolling off the production line again.
Interacting with the community
In the meantime, it would be interesting if the new owners would seek contact with this loyal community of Saab drivers. These days, communities around a brand seem to become increasingly important for businesses worldwide. While on the product development side of things Saab has to catch up because of the years when it didn’t have many resources, Saab has a natural advantage when it comes to a dedicated community.
If the new owners can interact with the Saab drivers while developing the Saab brand and new Saab cars, they have access to and can tailor cars for a group of customers coveted by many other car brands. By doing that, they can also bridge the period of development and keep this customer base involved. As mentioned here many times before, it seems logical that Saab has to continue focusing on being a premium car brand. With the historical production capacity typical for Saab, premium is the way to go. And premium can focus on a niche market, where loyal Saab drivers are strongly represented. When the foundations of the brand and company are strong, the Saab drivers can again serve as a customer base on and with which a thriving Saab brand can be built.
Aside from the most important thing right now, being the outcome of the negotations about the future, how would you like Saab and its owners to interact with its community? Looking forward to read about it in the comments section.