Pontiac: No More Room For Middle Brands

A BrandlandUSA reader laments the missed opportunity in Pontiac:

It may be that Pontiac is gone and erased from the accounting books of GM, and it may be that the heritage of Pontiac lives in the memoirs of Americana – but the fact of the matter remains that Pontiac outsold Lincoln, Mercury, Dodge, Chrysler, and the majority of imports, save Honda and Toyota.

They say that past history as a crystal ball to the future boils down to black-and-white numbers; these numbers say that Pontiac was a success for many years for GM. The truth of the matter is that Pontiac was placed between the premium GM brands and the standard GM brands – much like Saab, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, and so many other “middle brands” that have been eliminated over the years.

The fact of the matter is that the consumers in this country see two types of cars and trucks available from domestic manufacturers: premium brands and standard brands. Nevertheless, neither premium brands nor standard brands can service that one small part of the buying market that demands median branding that offers distinct style: Cadillac could never do this (remember the Cimmaron?), and Chevrolet could never do this. Too bad.

Pontiac was a great brand with great heritage that was just getting grounded in that middle market. It seems that there is no market between the big siblings, which leaves the consumers in this market with no choice but to settle for inferior branding, pay for premium branding, or switch to a foreign manufacturer.

Maybe this is why the Germans, the Japanese, and the Pacific Rim entrants are growing at unprecedented rates. In the end, all the elimination of these middle brands does is limit choice, force marginal consumers to weigh patriotism against reality, and reduce the ability to individualize one’s choice of ride.


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