B2B Positioning Strategy in the Automotive Market

Eagle Ottawa B2B Positioning Strategy Case Example

Business to Business (B2B) is significant in the automotive industry, with up to 30,000 components going into each car. This year has not made B2B positioning strategy easier for manufacturers and suppliers.

The automotive industry has been hard hit by the economic crisis developing in the wake of the global pandemic. In the US, 2019 new vehicle sales were approximately 17 million light vehicles. One projection for 2020 is between 14.5 to 16.4 million, down 4-15%. Actual sales may even be lower than estimates, since June 2020 sales were down 27% versus the prior year.  Meanwhile, used vehicle sales have been faring better, according to one source.

B2B Positioning Strategy in the Automotive Market

In Car Sales, Seats Set the Stage

When forming a first impression of a new vehicle, seat comfort and functionality are very noticeable. Seats can be covered in a range of materials, with different performance characteristics. Often, luxury vehicles are equipped with leather or faux leather seats, including the popular option of animal-free vegan leather.

We worked for the world’s leading brand of automotive leather, Eagle Ottawa, on the B2B positioning strategy for a fully-recycled leather, at the time called E-Leather. In January 2015, Eagle Ottawa was acquired by Lear in a transaction valued at $850 million. Eagle Ottawa complements “ Lear’s leading position in luxury and performance automotive seating.” Lear’s B2B approach stresses working with the automotive customer early in the process (i.e., in design and styling).

“By working with our Crafted by Lear and Guilford Performance Textiles by Lear teams, Eagle Ottawa by Lear offers customers a strategic solution by collaborating from the very beginning of the creative interior/seat design and styling stage.”

B2B Positioning Strategy Research Approach

The primary research for Eagle Ottawa’s B2B positioning strategy was focused on decision makers at customer organizations in a range of functions:

  • Design: Color and Trim
  • Product Planning
  • Materials Engineering
  • Purchasing and Finance

The organizations we spoke with included Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Ford, Hyundai and General Motors. Topics included:

  • responses to the E-Leather product
  • positioning, and name
  • Eagle Ottawa competitive perceptions
  • seat covering needs
  • benefits sought
  • unmet needs

Eagle Ottawa’s B2B Target Audience

The audience for our B2B positioning strategy included decision makers at major automotive manufacturers. Specifically:

  • color and trim designers
  • product planners
  • materials engineers
  • purchasing and finance decision makers  

The specific vehicles focused on initially were the eco sector, i.e., hybrids and electric vehicles.

B2B Positioning Strategy in the Automotive Market

Environmentally-Friendly Benefit

The overall benefit is that recycled leather from Eagle Ottawa is a great choice for eco-conscious buyers. Reasons to believe are critically important for this B2B product.

Reasons to Believe: Good for the Environment from Start to Finish

The most important reasons to believe fell into two major areas: those related to the leather itself, and those related to green processes. 

  • Reasons to Believe Related to Leather
    • Made from 70% recycled leather
    • Weighs 30% less than leather
    • Durability, beauty and comfort
  • Reasons to Believe Related to Green Processes
    • No adhesives or binders
    • Proprietary finishing process is based on water, not petrochemicals
    • Innovative, patented manufacturing process- hydroentanglement based on water and leather

B2B Positioning Strategy Statement

Innovative Material for the Green Generation

For more and more drivers, ecological considerations are a significant factor in choosing a new car. They’re the green generation. Now you can give them a completely new alternative to vinyl, fabric, and leather for the interior.

Novelle isn’t based on petrochemicals. In fact, the two major things that go into the manufacture of Advance are leather and water. Through Novelle’s innovative patented process, leather pieces are broken down into fibers and physically interlinked without adhesives or binders. So Novelle is made from 70% recycled leather. Eagle Ottawa’s proprietary finishing process meets demanding design & performance requirements and is water based, not petrochemicals.

As an upholstery material, Novelle offers the beauty, durability and comfort every driver wants.  And it’s only slightly more than high-end than imitation leathers, so it’s affordable.

Novelle Composition Leather. There is no better choice for the rapidly growing group of eco-conscious car buyers.

Do’s and Don’ts Can Be a Critical Element of B2B Positioning Strategy

We provided Eagle Ottawa with guidance on how to communicate the positioning with a Do’s and Don’ts outline.

For example, don’t reference fabric as a frame of reference. It is too confusing. Imitation leather is more relevant.  Do evoke the beauty of leather, and the great way the interior can look. Do reassure on price/cost.

While vegan leather is today’s latest trend, as part of this work, the team came to understand there is a long history in imitation leather as covered in Faux Real

B2B positioning strategy is an Insight to Action specialty. Contact us for a consultation.

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