I'm not at all against the notion of expanding a brand by broadening its product portfolio and therefore its market appeal. In fact, I was one of the few people that cheered Porsche on they decided that they were going to create the Cayenne. They were honest about what they were doing and why they were doing it. They also created a brilliant product that well and truly was to SUVs what 911s are to sports cars. In other words, they created a vehicle that reflected Porsche's ethos of trying to be the best at whatever they applied themselves to. It was an honest, intentional, and well-thought-out move by a famous company.
This latest round of moves by Aston Martin, however, is anything but, and their childish little stereotype of their target customer - whom they have named "Charlotte" - is a perfect demonstration of this. It's shallow, it's not particularly well-thought-out, and quite frankly, it smacks of a bunch of middle-aged guys posting up their image of an ideal woman. Rather than try to innovate by bringing the unique traits of what makes Aston Martin beautiful to different segments of the automotive market, they are trying to simply create a brand new product, irrespective of how it fits into the brand, and then sell it to a market stereotype.
That's a sure-fire recipe for disaster.
I understand Aston Martin's need to expand, but having a bunch of middle-aged douchebags (seriously - look at those photos of Reichmann. What a douche.) sit in a room, think of their ideal woman, and then try to sell something specifically to women is just a bad way of going about it. When it comes time to selling to women, the first and most important thing is quite simple: stop treating them in a condescending, paternalistic manner. Understand that some women may have different product requirements than others, but few, if any, require that a car have specifically woman-oriented features; leave those shades of pink and those lipstick holders on the drawing board. Understand that some women view cars as cool and fun statements, while others view them as utilitarian tools. Recognize that fifty shades of pink are not functional or advertisable product features. Realize that every woman who purchases a car is coming from a different perspective. Some want style and performance. Some want economy and reliability. Some want practicality. And quite frankly, some may want a car just for the curve of the goddamn hood.
In other words, treat them as you would treat men. It's just not that hard.
Furthermore, the instant you try to create a vehicle that is for "Charlotte," and then you go and brag that it is specifically for "Charlotte," you're already painting yourself and your product into a corner. It may be the greatest product in the world that has a great deal of appeal to both men and women, but by trying to pretend it's aimed at women, you're not just being mildly condescending to women - but you're also planting the seed in the mind of 50% of the potential market that they won't want this product because it's a "chick car." Stop trying to create cars that are aimed specifically at men or specifically at women, and start creating cars that appeal to anyone who likes the unique characteristics that your cars bring to their respective market segments.
And, finally, if you're going to expand your product portfolio into different market segments - great. Take your brand identity, figure out what characteristics make it special, and then take those characteristics into account in your product development phase. Don't try to create a product in a vein that already exists. If "Charlotte" wants a fast, expensive, luxurious "Crossover GT," she's going to buy an X6, a Cayenne, or, hell, a GL-Class. Each have all the capability and theoretically "woman-oriented" features that you think your stereotype wants, and they all have better brand recognition and resale value to boot.
Why, then, should "Charlotte" give a rat's ass about your dumbass little DBX? Because you're pretending that you're piece of vaporware is going to make it into production with an electric motor in each wheel? News flash: That doesn't work well in the real world; there's a reason why you never see it. The idea has been tried in concept and discarded because it doesn't pan out well.
Bye-bye, Aston Martin. It was nice knowing you, but it seems that Marek Reichmann and Andy Palmer seem intent on burying you under a pile of sheer stupidity. I'll prepare a nice eulogy.