Idiosyncratic loyalty

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.

A love affair

 

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.

 

Saabstance
Member
1 year 8 months ago
Excellent post and read. This is what sums up Saab ownership in a nutshell. We do not follow convention, we do not like to follow the crowd, we are definitive and who we are is determined by the jets we pilot truly. Here at Saabstance in Singapore. We have a very dedicated following of Saab enthusiasts that keeps the flag flying high. Sure we know that there are perhaps plenty of better cars out there that can beat a Saab hands down in every arena today. But it is our pride in our jets and this special brand that holds… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
1 year 8 months ago
For me, it’s not a matter of delivering GREAT cars—but delivering very good cars that are engineered and designed to be a little different and somewhat unique. You don’t have to break the bank to accomplish that. You have to be creative and outflank the bigger guys. Saab was able to do that for a long time. The problem with “Don’t build a lot of good cars, build fewer great cars” is that they couldn’t sell enough of the great cars at the prices they were charging to remain in business. Now they’re not selling any cars. Build that great… Read more »
aslak
Member
1 year 8 months ago

Thank you Ward for a very good post! I think you explain and describe in a good way how we are connected to Saab as enthusiasts!

Patrik H
Member
1 year 8 months ago

There’s still VERY MUCH to love about our intelligent, handsome, safe Swedish automobiles.

OddJob
Member
1 year 8 months ago

Thanks Ward, this is spot on what Saab is about.

LarsG
Member
1 year 8 months ago

I always became happy when I read comments from real SAAB- lovers.

Jova54
Member
1 year 8 months ago
Great article Ward. Really sums up what it is to be a Saab owner and enthusiast. For a small company to be such an innovator of new technologies and to produce cars with quirks that are sometimes irrelevant but always make one smile makes me wonder about the future. We all saw how GM struggled to come to terms with the Saab ethic of design and safety; watch the BBC Top Gear tribute to get a feel if you can find it, and now there is talk of Mahindra a large engineering conglomerate with loads of money but no real… Read more »
henke
Member
1 year 8 months ago
Very nice reading indeed! Some of the posts here at SU have been quite pessimistic lately, some times for good reasons, but definitely not all the times. I would say that the SAAB community is still unique, with a lot of dedication. I know some of us have “moved on” to other brands, but there are also a lot of fans still believing in a future. I have promised myself never buying anything else than SAAB, and I still hope I will be able to keep that promise. Even if it should not be a future, SAAB will still be… Read more »
Eleven
Member
1 year 8 months ago

Nicely written post Ward, and thanks for the mention (Saab vs. Scepticism). We may not have any new Saabs for the foreseeable future, but we sure have a load of amazingly fun and exclusive Saabs to maintain, tweak and enjoy. Let’s keep it simple and appreciate those for now – Carpe diem.

Patrik H
Member
1 year 8 months ago

+900

Chris Carrier
Member
1 year 8 months ago
What really makes me sad is that I discovered Saab too late: early enough to afford a couple used cars, a 1999 9-5, a 1994 900S Vert, a 2006 9-7x and then my first new one, a ’09 9-3 Aero… but then things got dim. I bought a 2010 9-5 when there seemed like much hope and then a 2011 9-4x when things had gone south a year later but with definite sentimental appeal, like it was my last chance. If it had been ten years prior I could have really experienced the brand, but I was too late. I… Read more »
ohansen
Member
1 year 8 months ago
Don’t worry. Even if there is never a new Saab produced, I, myself, plan to drive Saab for many years to come. As for now, I drive a 2002 Saab 9-5 2.2TID, in excellent shape, and bought for allmost nothing. In a few years time, i will buy a 2010 – 2012 Saab 9-5 for a small sum of money, fix it up, and have a car for many years to come. Or i may buy a late 9000 model. Even if my Saab is 12-13 years old, it’s still a better car than most of the cars on the… Read more »
phermansson
Member
1 year 8 months ago

And what do you do if you need a spare part and can’t get hold of it?

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