Although Peugeot made its official entry into the Philippines in the mid 2000s, it didn’t take off to establish itself as a brand that also offers the best of France. But things have slowly changed for the good since the brand thrived under the Alvarez group of car brands that include BMW.
And starting in late March, Peugeot got a new president in Glenn Dasig, who was one of the hotshots who helped BMW solidify its hold in the Philippine luxury car market.
Peugeot, however, is nothing alien to Dasig. And the French car brand has lots of potential to become a popular brand, especially now that more people in the Philippines are buying cars.
And what makes the Peugeot brand special?
“It is the second largest European brand in the world. It represents the best of what France can offer. So basically, I think from that statement, we can already say that, from a world class perspective, Peugeot has a lot of things to offer to this market,” Dasig said.
“What do European [brands]have that are unique compared to the Japanese, counterparts as well as Korean or Asian counterparts. First and foremost, it is the ability to provide innovation in terms of technology, comfort [and]durability. They are also more in tuned in terms of forward styling,” he added.
Forward styling can also be called setting the trend in styling, which the European car industry has been very popular for. This somehow explains why the most popular car models from Europe have very distinctive styling. Eventually, the trends set by European car brands in styling trickle down to other brands, Dasig said.
One good example of forward styling from Peugeot is the 308, which won the European Car of the Year Award in 2014. Dasig describes the 308 as “being very minimalist but very functional,” with its styling typified by clean lines rather than prominent curves that are found in some mainstream brands.
The dashboard of the 308 also shows its minimalist styling, because it has the right amount of buttons and interface to allow the driver to focus and savor the experience of driving. The gauges of the 308 are also placed higher than standard design, which allows the driver to view them easily during driving.
“When you see the car , there are just the right amount of chrome, just the right amount of buttons, that are concentrated on certain areas, because you want to concentrate on the driving experience and the riding experience. So that in itself makes us [Peugeot] unique,” Dasig said.
An upgrade for car buyers
The new head of Peugeot Philippines believes the brand will appeal to those who want to distinguish themselves from those who patronize mainstream car brands, or the brands that dominate the market when it comes to sales volume.
When it comes to market positioning, Peugeot is a notch or two notches above the mainstream brands that has large number of buyers, but is below the expensive luxury brands. The French brand’s direct and indirect competitors include Volvo, Subaru and Volkswagen.
“From a point of view of actual volumes in the market, the Philippine [car]industry grew by as much as 30 percent if you look at the CAMPI [Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc.] results last year. And motorization is actually here. And because of the increased capacity of the Filipinos [to buy], more people will like to buy cars,” Dasig said.
“I personally believe that as more Filipinos would like to purchase cars, their tastes actually improve,” he added.
For the Philippine market, Peugeot will offer vehicles from various categories. Besides the award-winning 308, the French brand’s lineup for the domestic market includes the 508 sedan, which Dasig said offers features not found in Asian counterparts and even some luxury brands.
“You get more value for what you pay for [in the 308],” he added.
The domestic lineup will also have the 5008 MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) that can seat seven; the 3008 crossover that is practical family car that also handles like a car, and offers its driver a high seating position; and the Teepee MPV that can seat up to nine yet offer adequate luggage space.
Meanwhile, two vehicles that have a sporty character or pedigree are also part of Peugeot’s domestic stable: the 208 and the RCZ.
Dasig said the 208 is one of the brand’s “pocket rockets” because Peugeot used that model to win the WRC championships and the Pikes Peak climb with Sebastien Loeb behind the wheel. “That car really wins [at the WRC races],” he added.
The RCZ two-door coupe, on the other hand, has a styling that is “probably too forward,” according to Dasig.
Selling the brand
When it comes to marketing the brand, Dasig said they will make sure that prospective Peugeot buyers will experience the brand as it should be, or the sales executives of the brand should differentiate themselves from the mainstream brands, among other measures.
“From a point of view of positioning, the only way we can have customers understanding who out brand is, we need to ensure that the right processes are in place at the dealerships, [and]the right people are at the dealerships” he said.
“The processes have to be strengthened. What do I mean by that? That means that everytime you are exposed to a Peugeot event, Peugeot ad, Peugeot social media touchpoint, I think we have to be consistent in what we say,” Dasig added.
As to the prospective buyers of Peugeot products, they cannot be definitely described as simply following trends.
According to Dasig, the car buyers who will patronize the Peugeot brand are those who are “very confident about their stature in life.”
“I see somebody who is probably in their early to mid 30s. Somebody who is not afraid to distinguish himself or herself,” he said.
“He or she tries to have his or her unique way of expressing his or her style. He or she is also somebody who has traveled around the world, obviously to Europe, and he or she has more discerning tastes,” Dasig added.
With Filipinos having more disposable income and a discerning taste for fine products, Peugeot’s reemergence in the Philippine car market can be described as timely.
“I’d like to think we [Peugeot] are at the right time and the right place,” Dasig said.
“The important thing is we care for the customers. What I do not like is we sell to you, and bahala ka na [we leave you alone],” he added.
This means that every Peugeot car buyer is assured of after-sales service that builds long-term relationships the French way. Besides, since Peugeot is as French as Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Hermes, car buyers who would patronize the brand expect much from the brand. And Dasig can help deliver that expectation with the Peugeot team in the Philippines.