Opportunity: Bring back the picnics
Remember the Saturn, that affordable, plastic-bodied car popular in the 1990s? The brand went away in 2009 after General Motors ( GM) failed to close a deal with Penske Automotive Group ( PAG) to acquire the unit. We don't expect that GM will bring back the Saturn -- or the once popular Pontiac brand, for that matter -- anytime soon. A re-launch would also certainly go far beyond our criteria of "simple." But they could take a page from a brilliant marketing strategy that helped the Saturn cultivate a fiercely dedicated following: It promoted ownership as being part of a "club," with a variety of special events that included periodic cookouts and picnics, notably at the Tennessee plant where the car was made. Would similar get-togethers and social events organized to thank owners and celebrate certain models be successful? Perhaps not, given the fast-paced, time-strapped lives many lead. But if this strategy once worked brilliantly in cultivating the cult of Saturn, it might be a relatively inexpensive way to cultivate all-important customer loyalty.