Back in 2003, Honda had figured out what the kids wanted in a car by asking them what they wanted in a car. Its boxiness set it apart from the field (people even went out of their way to point out how thinking outside of the box meant being in the box). It could store several bikes in the back and was incredibly dog- and sand-friendly.
It even had the requisite quirky marketing campaign (extra points for talking animals). Who could resist Gil the Crab and his CA-lassic tag line, “I pinch”? He even had a MySpace page (still somewhat intact). YouTube search results associate it today with the Old Spice guy (The Old Spice Guy!!!). They were so close.
Sadly, Gil never made the jump to Facebook. Each year, the Element’s sales declined, but why? The plan was so mathematically perfect. It was the car designed by young urbanites FOR young urbanites. The car was marketed basically at me, and I kind of liked it. The problem is, I don’t want a car, I don’t drive and I couldn’t afford it even if I did.
Honda was posing the wrong questions. Asking what you want in an SUV presupposes that you want an SUV. The Element got pretty poor gas mileage and was targeted a group that they should have known (because they asked them) would reject SUVs. As we hinted at in another KTD post, it’s the Anti-Arch Deluxe effect (or should it be just Arch Deluxe Effect). Doesn’t matter. They had pretty much everything right except the first step.
[Image via Honda]