Subaru ramps up marketing regionally

Automobile distributor Tan Chong International has big plans to raise brand awareness for the Subaru brand in the region.

Glenn Tan, executive director, Tan Chong International tells Marketing that from last year to this year, its marketing budget has already doubled and is only set to increase as the company sets its sights on the markets of Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand for the Subaru brand.

The Tan Chong group has 13 companies offering several other services under it and is present in 11 markets in Asia Pacific. It is the distributor for Subaru in several regional markets and Nissan in Singapore.

The company is now looking to target the growing mass market in these five focus markets. Tan describes Subaru’s market share in these as being relatively small, and said that the plans are to build the brand image there.

“Subaru in America is growing as a brand, it was rated the best brand money can buy by Forbes. That’s what we’re trying to get to in Asia. For us it’s not the problem of the product anymore, it’s the problem of the brand image,” said Tan, referring to how Subaru has been launching better designs as compared to in the past, where it banked mainly on reliability.

So far, the company has been marketing the brand through associations with entertainment, for instance, sponsoring Cesar Milan’s shows in the region to reach pet owners; and Super Model Me as well as Asia’s Top Model for added “glamour” to the brand, said Tan.

But he feels its media and communications strategy so far has been scattered, and going forward, the company is looking to have a consolidated approach to the region.

It has newly hired Havas Media as its media agency for 10 territories for the Subaru brand, and in Singapore for the Nissan brand. The account is understood to be worth SG$15 million. The incumbent on the account was Mindshare for the Nissan brand, Marketing understands.

The company is still looking for a creative agency for its regional markets, and will look for a partner for a “consolidated public relations strategy when its brand equity is stronger,” said Tan.