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What Modern Marketers Can Learn From A 100 Year Old Artisan Auto Maker

by: Geoff Ficke

H. F. S. Morgan launched his eponymous car manufacturing company in England in 1909. For a century, through world wars and great economic turbulence, Morgan Motor Company has produced some of the most stylish, desirable automobiles ever produced. Unless you are a classic car enthusiast, you probably have never heard of Morgan and more unfortunately probably never seen one of these magnificent machines on the road. They are exceedingly rare and that has gone a great distance in cementing the desirability of the mark.

Morgan’s initially were 3-wheeled cycle cars. The Company focused on these “trikes” because at that time the conventional automobile was heavily taxed. As the taxes were lowered, and mass manufacturing drove down the price of autos, Morgan evolved to a two seat roadster model.

Morgan’s, from their introduction, to the present day, feature a distinctively British sports car look. The cars sit exceptionally low to the road, sport lush, flowing fender lines, a long bonnet (hood) that is held in place with a leather belt and a curvy grille that has not significantly changed in 100 years. Most unusually, each hand built car is constructed on a wooden (ash) frame.

The grandson of H. F. S. Morgan runs the Company today. The principles that the founder based the brands pedigree upon are still the foundation of the enterprise. Each car is a slowly crafted work of artisan perfection. The introduction of updated models of Morgan’s has continued unabated. However, the advances in the product are always found under the hood, in the gear box or transmission. When you see a Morgan you know it is a Morgan, whether a 1948 or 1995 model.
This continuity of a classic body profile has created a cult following for Morgan’s. Despite many opportunities to expand production and sales, Morgan has remained steadfast to the founder’s vision and remains a bastion of old world craftsmanship. In 2007 the Company delivered 640 cars to purchasers around the world who had waited up to two years to have their pre-paid order filled. 163 highly specialized employees build Morgan’s in the Company’s original Malvern, England factory.

In honor of Morgan Motor Company’s 100th anniversary, the company introduced the special edition Morgan Aero 8. This coupe is one of the most stunning automobiles ever to operate on a roadway, at anytime, anyplace. This breathtaking design was built in limited production of 100 vehicles. The price was $160,000. The Aero 8 is an instant classic. Though more aerodynamic than other Morgan’s, the Aero 8 still exhibits the lines and spirit so obvious in all Morgan vintage vehicles.

We live in a world of mass market consumer products. This is good. The opportunity for more people to enjoy the basic fruits of invention and enjoy more fulfilling lifestyles has never been greater. However, the world is a much more beautiful place because products like the Morgan automobile are still produced to fill a niche need.

Product marketers can easily utilize the strategy employed so successfully, for so long, by Morgan to penetrate difficult product categories. The iconic styling cues that identify a vehicle as a classic Morgan, the customized coach work, the exclusivity of product distribution all contribute to creating more demand for these stunning cars than there is supply. This model is used in numerous other sectors of the consumer product universe to create desirability and exclusivity. I am surprised that more new businesses do not pursue a similar strategy.