Sleepless in Sheffield, Andrew Miles turns to tried and trusted methods.
Robbed of sleep by frazzled nerve endings, I turned (as one does) to that comfort blanket known as the internet. My searching led to previously unknown (to me) demographic targets that manufacturers use to ascertain future sales.
The new Škoda Octavia RS (appearing to have dropped the ‘v’) along with the muscular Scout were being virtually revealed in a ninety minute long video. Supported by a cast of dozens of minions introducing their own particular nuance; infotainment, Head up Display, transmissions and engine parameters, to name just a few, the big guns fired the opening salvoes to a sparse audience, seated around circular tables and to practically unsocial amounts of distance. Bottles of water and disposable coffee cups clearly seen on every table.
Bernhard Maier, soon to return the Fatherland under the Porsche wing of Volkswagen Group, led with the importance of Octavia. Shifting around 400,000 8’s per year is big business and in order to keep that income river flowing, changes and enhancements must occur. As you would expect from a CEO (even one about to hoof it out) Herr Maier bigs the car up.
Then it’s the turn of Christian Strube, a board member. Again, many convincing words sprout forth of the new cars connectivity, safety measures, excellent driving characteristics, etc. The stage is then clear for Oliver Stefani to strut his stuff. In a shorter presentation than I thought permissible, O.S. seems a little rushed, almost resigned to highlighting the small details on offer, the kind of minutiae noticed only by those fully conscious and in need of bragging rights. In essence, he gives the performance of a tree: wooden.
The next few screens made me turn to my sleeping partner and exclaim “Wow, that’s almost us!” I took the accompanying snore as a hint of recognition.
Certain that many educated, responsible and down to earth individuals must be employed by manufacturers the world over, analysing data and crunching information to ascertain who buys what and where, Škoda’s target audience projection figures were remarkably accurate – certainly for the wee small hours of the night.
The Scout is extremely popular in Germany, Switzerland, the U.K. and their homeland. U.K. sales have rocketed and it’s allegedly because of this chap, Hugo. I wish to (virtually) shake the hand of the bright spark coining that name. Hugo is 46, married with no kids. He is decently educated, works in a clerical role and cites walking, cycling, snowboarding and football as his extraneous activities.
Hugo is a loyal Škoda customer, willing to spend €37,000. Winning Hugo’s heart are the switchable drivetrain, rugged looks, durability and road holding prowess. To what system of power to propel Hugo to the mountain trail or parking nearest to the Kop, no mention is made. Hugo does not want to be seen dead in a SUV. That last bit I gave to Hugo, for free.
Gallons more information poured forth whipping the crowd into a distanced frenzy. Then came the icing as well as the cherry – the RS – the Czech brand’s panzer for the autobahn.
Again, popular to the tune of 9% sales in the U.K. alone, the ever increasingly aggressive creations from Mlada Boleslav are sought after Europe-wide. Getting this car correct is vital as the next target customer is Albert. No information was given on how many meetings were had (by Zoom, Teams or FaceTime) to land on the name of Albert, but good on yer, sport.
Albert is a soupçon younger than Hugo at 42. He has a partner and two kids and his job is that of a sales manager. With a university education behind him, Albert is most keen on motor racing, cycling, walking and sports, with no definitive answer to that final part. One hopes Albert could be in a desperate rush to attend the World Tiddlywinks Finals. Or after sustaining an injury in his last game, keen on supporting his team mates at the Korfball match in downtown Leeuwarden.
Albert may currently run another brand and be swung over to the charms of Škoda as he is expecting to shell out a hefty amount per month on his new motor, with a household income of €4,700 per month. Albert has a love of the RS exterior style, the performance available and the value for money offered – any of the Powertrains shove out some serious poke and all undercut the German three, though this is not mentioned – it’s a fact.
Powertrains for these latest Czech offerings include those evermore demonstrative fossil fuels, plug in hybrids as well as compressed natural gas; all are cleaner, greener by percentages usually only offered by those in the murkier end of the financial world than the old versions of the same cars.
As sleep finally began to take hold, I drifted off with thoughts of knowing no-one with those names or being that specific in their target requirements. And my final thought was to wonder just how accurate those targets in sight appear to be. Could be a new sport y’know; Albert and Hugo spotting, as they are seemingly everywhere. I wonder what parameters such carmakers as the Germans or Jaguar, use? Does Mr Musk target everyone? Goodness only knows what happens if either of our protagonists works for a different car maker. Does that clock really say 4am…?