How Land Rover have repositioned themselves

Land Rover created future scenarios for their brand and chose a path they had never travelled before.

Farmers at one stage bought Land Rovers.

No, not uber-rich wine farmers in Stellenbosch - real farmers, who wrangle sheep into the sheering shed and help cows give birth at 2am on a cold, rainy night in the middle of winter.

The Land Rover brand was build post-WW2 on the back of this kind of brutal hard work.

The mark stood for real British guts and tenacity. If you owned a Land Rover Defender, you also drank cane and Coke, owned a gun and had hands as big as baseball mitts.

But over the years, the 'hard-working' car segment of the marketplace got hellava crowded. Toyota, Nissan, Isuzu and others moved into the space and increasingly became completely dominant over Land Rover.

The Land Rover brand became something of a joke amongst the 4x4 community - a punchline.

But Land Rover responded with a genius strategic move.

They decided to move away from their long-term association with hard-work and transitioned themselves into a luxury brand.

That is an incredibly bold thing to do - to choose to shift away from your core, into uncharted brand territory, is a significant risk, but the move seems to have certainly paid off for them.

Luxury brands don't compete on suspension setups, or clearance specs, or whether or not they can make the journey between L├╝deritz and Walvis Bay (through the desert) without having to be towed out of a sand dune by a Land Cruiser.

Luxury brands don't sell a solution to a problem that you have - they sell a dream. They sell an inspiring image that is detached from a mundane, functional reality.

There's no better example of how they do just that than in this 2018 promotional campaign called the Dragon Challenge, where they sent a Range Rover up the 999 steps of Heaven's Gate in China.

They call it a test of capability, but capability is not really what they are selling here.

They're selling you the future story that you are going to tell your friends, after you have bought one on their cars, at the 19th of your local golf club, while you all drink a glass of Glenlivet.

Nobody buys this car because they really need 400 horse power under the hood for their commute to work - they buy it because of the potential that it holds.

The lesson?

Land Rover drivers have come from a place where just a few years ago they would have most likely also have been owners of a Beretta; to now being rather at ease browsing around at Cartier.

They've repositioned themselves as a luxury brand and now don't really compete with anyone.

Land Rover are in a luxury category all by themselves.

Even with the new Defender (which as a vehicle, is incredibly technically capable), it's an example of brute force dolled up in a silk gown.

They could have defended their brand heritage and thrown increasing amounts of money at trying to outcompete their Japanese rivals (a pointless exercise most probably), but instead chose to recognise that the conditions around them had changed significantly, and decided instead to go a new route towards the preferred scenario of brand growth thanks to a radical brand repositioning.

Great example of a brand using strategic foresight to explore future paths and then making an informed decision to transition to an alternative.

Can't wait to see what other films they produce inviting us to dream what it might be like to actually own one of these incredible vehicles.