Plymouth Place Designed to Increase Marque's Sales

Article excerpt

Amid the outlet shops of the sprawling Sawgrass Mills Mall west of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., shoppers are confronted with an inviting display of Plymouth vehicles.

The exhibit, which the company calls Plymouth Place, is one of 100 such displays that have been set up in malls located in the top-40 car markets around the country.

The mall displays are not sales outlets in the conventional sense. You still have to go to a franchised dealer to buy a Plymouth. But the mall displays are indeed part of an innovative program to bring more buyers back to Plymouth, said Steven D. Bruyn, national marketing plans manager for the brand.

"Our objective is to re-establish Plymouth as a high volume entry-level brand," said Mr. Bruyn. And the mall displays are only one of the ways that Plymouth is using to lure potential buyers. The new marketing strategies and tactics were devised by a 23-person Plymouth Renaissance Team. The team consists of engineers, financial, marketing and advertising executives and members of various platform teams.

The goal of the Renaissance Team is to send Plymouth sales soaring from about 340,000 units the company expects to sell this year, about 50,000 units above the 1995 total. The team is intent on surpassing the 748,699 units Plymouth sold in its 1973 heyday. That may come as a surprise to many experts who were led to believe that Chrysler intended to let the Plymouth brand wither away.

Mr. Bruyn said Plymouth can get back to where it was historically with the new marketing strategies. Plymouth's initial strategy is to lure first-time buyers between 20 and 40 years old and with household incomes of $30,000 to $60,000. Plymouth expects 60 to 65 percent of its customers to be women. Mr. Bruyn said these customers desire simple, high-quality and affordable cars.

In addition, Plymouth intends to narrow its choice of products. There will be no offerings above compact size. The present Breeze is as big as Plymouth intends to get in car size. "That's where Plymouth ends," Mr. Bruyn said.

The marketing manager explains that Plymouth is not targeted as a destination brand. Chrysler expects Neon and Breeze owners to shop for bigger Chrysler models as they grow older and more affluent. …