There are different examples of what makes an icon, varying according to different industries, activities, and athletics. In sports, an icon is someone we look up to, either for their on-field performance, or for their activities off the field. In business an icon is someone who has risen above others, either as a result of a product they created, or their impressive charitable contributions. For example, many would consider both Steve Jobs and Warren Buffet icons, although each man’s accomplishments are different. One made his wealth through investments, the other through inventions, but both men are icons.

In the automotive industry, icons are measured in many different ways. Vehicles, which are the heart of the industry, can be icons; in fact, certain truly iconic vehicles are the first image that comes to mind when you hear the name of a company or brand. For example, when most people see the word Porsche, they think 911; Ford is associated with F-150 and Mustang; BMW, with the 3 series; Honda, Civic; and of course Volkswagen with the Beetle.

Once a vehicle obtains iconic status, the vehicle goes through more reviews, gets harsher criticism, and if its sales figures do not live up to its potential, the vehicle may be rumored to be canceled.

For a vehicle to be an icon it must define multiple generations. However, iconic vehicles define more than generations–they define memories. Owners remember clearly either the original color, the sound of the engine, driving in it with their parents, or getting pulled over the first time for going a bit too fast. All these moments draw upon times spent in the vehicle. For a vehicle to be remembered is fairly easy, especially to an individual who drove one.

For example, the Ford Mustang is a vehicle that has defined a number of generations, and still holds a special place in the hearts of its owners. However, it was not always great for the Ford Mustang. The Mustang had slumping sales in the mid-1980’s after it went through a design change that made many Mustang owners unhappy. Ford Motor Company thought the Mustang may have lost its presence in the market, and discussed replacing the vehicle. In 1987 the Mustang went through another redesign, and its sales started to grow again.

For a vehicle to become iconic, it must also be a vehicle that carries a story, a memory or a moment, of a person, place, or time. The vehicle played a note of our favorite song in a certain way, or it carried a fragrance that reminds us of a loved one. For example, eating lunch over the weekend, I mentioned the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle, and my friend told me a story of a Beetle their uncle had, and then proceeded to tell me a variety of stories about the Volkswagen Beetle. To him, when I mentioned Volkswagen, he thought Beetle, which is the perfect example of how the Beetle is iconic to the brand.

Recently, there has been a strong trend in bringing iconic vehicles back to the market, or refreshing iconic vehicles to hopefully achieve the same level of success the vehicle once had. This has occurred with the Chevrolet Camaro, the Ford Mustang, and most recently the Volkswagen Beetle.

Volkswagen is bringing its iconic vehicle back to a very competitive market. They are following a remarketing trend with the new Volkswagen Beetle featuring a more masculine appearance. The Beetle is a unique icon, because it’s a product that was identified with the flower power generation.mintel automotive research vw bug

The Volkswagen Beetle still maintains its iconic look, but also offers options for the new generation. To appeal to today’s consumer, Volkswagen is capitalizing on a new trend in the automotive industry, which is customization. By being on the forefront of the customization trend, the Volkswagen Beetle is allowing the consumer to have custom options, similar to what the Mini brand offers.

Mini was one of the original brands that offered very unique customizations on their vehicles. These customizations give consumers the opportunity to pick different rims and rim caps, choose various exterior mirror caps that feature the British flag or a checkered flag, and select custom door handles and decals on the vehicle. However, for Mini, customization does not stop on the outside of the car. Buyers can also customize rear-view mirrors, interior leather, and vehicle cover. Volkswagen has taken this idea and put their unique spin on it.

Volkswagen is launching the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle with a list of options to customize, which include keys, car covers, and other features to give the consumer the chance to make their vehicle unique to them and their lifestyle. For example, Volkswagen has an option for a customized car cover, which can feature unique pictures, school colors, or maybe even the Darth Vader helmet.

The customization trend allows for the consumer, who already is set up to develop a personal connection with their vehicle, to cultivate an even closer one. Volkswagen is taking their iconic vehicle, and allowing the consumer to further develop a personal relationship with that vehicle. This allows more than just the consumer to develop the Volkswagen Beetle-it allows Volkswagen a chance to develop a connection with their consumer.

Volkswagen will be able to take the consumer’s orders and interests, and find certain things they may want to make standard. The other positive benefit of customization is that it makes the consumer order the product. Since Volkswagen must build to order, they can worry less about inventory control and inventory levels.

The customization trend seems to be more popular on smaller products than it is on larger vehicles, but as consumers continue to own their vehicles for longer periods of time, customization may become more popular. While customization will not lead to dealerships stocking very low volumes of inventory, it does allows the automotive manufacture to build to order, and not overstock dealerships. This may provide greater control of the inventory at dealerships and production facilities, which can increase the potential for larger profits.

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