Subaru Leverages Buyers' Philanthropy In Promo

SubaruSubaru's new "Share the Love" campaign, running through Jan. 2, lets new-vehicle customers select one of five charities to receive a $250 donation from Subaru of America, following the purchase or lease of a new Subaru vehicle.

The five charities that are participating in the program are: Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Habitat for Humanity International, Meals On Wheels Association of America, the National Wildlife Federation and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

The Cherry Hill, N.J.-based company predicts that the program, extending Subaru's "Love. It's What Makes a Subaru, a Subaru" brand campaign (which launched in April to support the new Forrester crossover), will raise up to $5 million for the charities during its duration.

"In looking for a way to stand out during the December selling period, one of the pieces of research we see is that our customers are socially involved, very involved with supporting their communities--we see that often," says Kevin Mayer, director of marketing communications for the company.



Wes Brown, with L.A.-based marketing lab Iceology, agrees. "They are, in general, more altruistic; they don't like to broadcast it, but they are," he says. "They volunteer a lot and they give a lot."

He adds that they are also less likely to respond to overt financing deals. "The Subaru buyer, in general, tends to be more financially savvy; they are not the kind of people who are personally affected by the mortgage crisis. And because a good percentage of them would rather not make payments, there are a lot of them who will walk into dealerships and buy outright. It's just their mindset."

According to Tim Mahoney, Subaru's SVP/CMO, Subaru also indexes strongly among members of the five organizations partnering with the automaker for this program. "We have been working with them to activate, and dealers have been reaching to their local chapters as well, on an ad hoc basis," with programs that include having the ASPCA come to dealerships with adoptable pets.

The company is offering a variety of monthly-payment deals on its vehicles, ranging from $179 per month for a 36-month lease on its Impreza entry-level sedan to $319 per month for a 42-month lease of its Tribeca SUV. The company says Subaru dealerships across the U.S. will also be participating in the program by hosting events and projects in their communities.

In a tsunami year for the auto sector, Subaru--which has a small lineup of vehicles, and yearly sales of around 250,000 vehicles-- seems to be bobbing along like Thor Heyerdahl's log raft in "Kon Tiki." The company's year-to-date sales are up 2%, and October sales were "only" down 14%. This sounds like a lot until that number is lined up with other import brands like Honda (down 28%), Toyota (down 26%), Nissan (down 33%), and Hyundai (down 31%).

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