Why is the Jeep Brand so Popular?
Jeep is one of the biggest success stories in the U.S. auto industry (248,000 Wranglers sold in 2018). What makes the brand so desirable?
There must be an explanation because, to be honest, the vehicle is not fuel-efficient or the most practical for everyday life, and it has several other slight problems.
Of course, the fact that Jeep is part of war history can be interesting for some people. We do not think this is the main reason for its popularity, but it undoubtedly helps setting it apart from its competitors.
Jeep has had the advantage of having few competitors over the years, and it is arguably the only player in its category. With the arrival of the all-new Ford Bronco, the market could change. No other model or brand had offered the off-road capabilities of the Rubicon or removable doors and roof to enjoy a sunny day. The Ford Bronco will certainly muddy the waters in this regard. The new player is not the first to take on the Jeep market, but all others have failed. Time will tell how the giant Ford will do.
It is a matter of timing. Jeep is responding to a particular need as we live in a society where everybody is focused on image and trying to stand out. The manufacturer offers its customers a vehicle that stands out thanks to its unique design. While all other models are about aerodynamics, Jeep has kept its square box style. As mentioned above, many people want their own identity and try to be different and noticed. You may disagree, but the Jeep is a bit like the Civic of SUVs. It offers a lot of possibilities to modify the vehicle into something that represents you. Even if thousands of people own the same model, none of them will look the same. With some affordable extras, you will have 35-inch tires, side steps, a custom bumper, and a star on the door.
And if we push it a bit further… Both men and women can enjoy the Jeep, but it particularly meets the needs of men.
Other times, other customs. Contrary to men of previous generations, men today are more sedentary and enjoy the many technologies and services available on the market. Over time some manual tasks have been abandoned. However, there is a certain nostalgia and a desire to reconnect with basic tasks. Companies have noticed this trend and have based their marketing on products that make male consumers feel like the pack leader. Several examples come to mind: the popularity of Harley-Davidsons, plaid shirts, beards, ax throwing, Viking series, and so on. That is why Jeep has adapted its product to offer a more rebellious look, which allows a return to a more nomadic lifestyle in more extreme road conditions.
For all of these reasons, Jeep has successfully created a sense of belonging, an essential element in a well-developed marketing plan. Customers who are so loyal to the brand will not be too bothered by the vehicle problems. That is what we call “a Jeep thing.”
The Jeep Gladiator is a good example. You like or dislike the look, but with remarkable sales figures (155,000 units sold since its release), the manufacturer has proven that having loyal customers can still bring positive sales results despite product issues. The sales figures are impressive given that the vehicle is quite expensive – it does not offer all the advantages of a pickup truck nor the Wrangler, but it almost combines the price of both.
For some owners, the Jeep offers good off-road capabilities, especially the Rubicon model. However, the vast majority of sold units will never or will rarely go off-road. The Jeep gives a sense of freedom. It represents adventures and escapes from big cities to explore the wilderness. It also represents our more extroverted side. Jeep may even mean family, friends, club, and activities. And it may be the reflection of our personality.
As long as Jeep remains a Jeep… I believe they will always be successful.
Dave Daneault 4x4setupMagazine