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In AUTO BRAND, Anders Parment, a leading branding consultant to the industry dares car brands to be proactive

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PHILADELPHIA--Feb. 18, 2014: From steam engines, to gas-fueled vehicles and electric cars, the automotive industry has seen constant change. In recent years, the car – once everybody's dream and a key status symbol – has been facing concerns over pollution and sustainability. No longer a "must-have" luxury status symbol, and losing ground with young urban dwellers, car brands have had to rethink their design, brand and marketing strategies. However, even with the shock of the economic recession of 2008-10, the staying power and resilience of the auto industry is evidenced by global auto sales topping 80 million vehicles in 2013, for the first time ever. That's a 4.2% increase from 2012. This year, attendance at the North American International Auto Show was the highest in 10 years. So what are car companies doing differently? How are they working to stay relevant and battle extensive changes in consumer behavior, product characteristics and public policy-making? And how are they readying to take advantage of emerging technologies and constantly altering buyer behavior?

With the history of the car industry being largely a history of brands, industry expert Anders Parment discusses car brands and car buying changes in his new book Auto Brand, charting the shift from over 40 leading car makers in 1970 to the current 10. With findings from original research -- 4,700 survey answers and 100 interviews with CEOs, marketing managers and car dealers -- he explores what car companies have done, and will need to do. "The answers to the problems faced by the industry largely lie in its own hands, or at least those of the more proactive companies," Parment says.

The book identifies the challenges facing the industry today: overcapacity and intense competition, a well-informed customer who knows how to shop around and get value; sustainability expectations; the pressure to be efficient, affordable, and environmentally friendly; the need to break industry boundaries; a present-day car culture where it is increasingly difficult to forecast purchases based on demographic profiles, and the tension between cost efficiency and brand values. It also delves into where the industry is headed, raising questions such as: will car makers and their marketing channel partners continue to spend 20 percent of a car's retail price on marketing and advertising, or go for great product performance? Is there still a need for a car salesman? Will cars continue to be sold in single brand dealerships?

Covering iconic brands such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Saab, Ford, Volvo and more, Auto Brand appeals to any reader who has ever wondered how car culture has changed since its inception and how car companies are adapting to ensure the car remains relevant to its consumers.

ANDERS PARMENT is an established brand and business consultant, whose key customers include Audi, Citroen, Porsche, Saab, Seat, Volkswagen and Volvo, as well as major banks, consulting, insurance and finance companies, governments, and professional organizations. He is also Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Branding and Marketing Communications at Stockholm University.

Auto Brand: Building Successful Car Brands for the Future by Anders Parment. Published by Kogan Page, February 2014. ISBN: 9780749469290. Paperback, 264 PP, $29.95.

Kogen Page USA