Superbrands case studies: Jaguar

Originally published in 'Consumer Superbrands' Volume VI, July 2004. The book reviews the UK's strongest consumer brands as judged by an independent judging panel.

Case study provided by Superbrands.


Jaguar competes solely in the premium or luxury car market which is predominantly associated with prestige European manufacturers. In 2003, this market accounted for 11.5% of the UK's total new car sales. With increasing levels of affluence and wider product choice, this percentage has steadily increased in recent years as consumers have traded up from volume to branded products.

Total new car registrations in the UK were in excess of 2.5 million in 2003 and premium sales in the sectors of the market in which Jaguar competes were almost 300,000. Jaguar sales for the year were an all-time record at almost 30,000, a 10% share of the market and double the volume achieved only five years previously. Up until 1999, Jaguar was a niche manufacturer competing only in the Large Premium Saloon and Sports sectors with the XJ and XK model lines.

Its growth as a company has come primarily with the recent addition of the S-TYPE and X-TYPE saloons, which allow Jaguar to compete in the higher-volume Medium and Compact sectors. In the UK, company car drivers in particular are tending to downsize in their choice of vehicles to lessen the tax burden based on carbon dioxide emissions. But their choice is also product-led because manufacturers generally are focusing new model development on the most rapidly expanding areas of the market. The introduction of the X-TYPE, for example, is one of the main reasons for the major growth of the Compact Premium sector over the last three years.


The current Jaguar range has a heritage, which includes some of the most famous cars in motoring history. Designs like the XK120, the E-TYPE and the Mark 11 saloon established a reputation for power and performance but, above all, it is their sensuous styling which has set Jaguar's cars apart. Emphasising their sporting character, this design philosophy remains essential to the marque. This was established very early on by Jaguar's founder, William Lyons. Knighted in 1956 for his services to the automotive industry, he led them company for almost 50 years. He is the most important figure in Jaguar's history and his legacy's still felt profoundly today.

In 1922, William Lyons started the Swallow Sidecar Company in Blackpool, Lancashire with his friend, William Walmsley. They were both motorcycle enthusiasts and as soon as Lyons had reached his 21st birthday, the partners borrowed £1,000 from their parents to rent a small factory. They were soon producing distinctive aluminium sidecars for a booming market. From the start, Lyons showed his flair for line and style and by 1927 he had moved into the motorcar market, designing his own coachwork for an existing chassis. The Austin Seven Swallow - a two-seater sports car - was soon followed by designs based on cars by other manufacturers. The business grew quickly and in 1928 it relocated to Coventry, the heartland of the British motor industry. Jaguar's headquarters is still based in the city today.

In 1931, Swallow Sidecars introduced its first car under the SS brand name and soon Lyons was producing a whole range of new models. In a country gripped by economic depression, the cars were very popular because, as well as being stylish and fast, they also represented exceptional value-for-money. The SS Jaguar of 1935 was the first to bear the name that the company would use exclusively after World War II.

As well as being a skilled stylist, Lyons was highly aware of the power of advertising and publicity. He chose the name 'Jaguar' because it represented power and grace and, in the 1930s, he entered cars in international rallies, which started to establish the company's high profile. This thinking was continued after the war when XK120's, followed by C-TYPE's and D-TYPE's, dominated sports car racing. Jaguar won the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race five times in the 1950s.

William Walmsley left the company in 1935 and from then until the 1960s, Lyons remained at the helm. In the post-war years, Jaguar became a major UK exporter - especially to the all-important North American market - and it acquired an increasingly glamorous image as the so-called 'car of the stars'. Clark Gable, Tony Curtis and Frank Sinatra became enthusiasts of the marque together with many of their Hollywood contemporaries. By the 1960s, Sir William had decided that Jaguar was too small a company to survive in an industry becoming increasingly dominated by the large mass producers.

He took Jaguar into a merger with the British Motor Corporation, which subsequently became British Leyland. The XJ6 saloon introduced in 1968 was Lyons' crowning achievement but Jaguar's reputation suffered under British Leyland and it wasn't until 1984 that the company regained its independence. However, successive fuel crises left Jaguar needing the protection offered by the Ford Motor Company when it acquired the marque in 1989.

Considerable investment in capital equipment and the adoption of new working practices saw quality and productivity improve markedly in the early 1990s. This paved the way for the current Jaguar range, starting with a new XJ saloon and then the introduction of the XK sports car. In 1999, Jaguar launched its first entirely new model line for three decades - the S-TYPE medium-sized


Jaguar competes across the premium saloon and sports car market with a 4-car line-up. All models have an Advanced Jaguar (AJ) petrol engine in a V6 or V8 configuration and the S-TYPE and X-TYPE ranges also feature high-performance Diesel engines.

The flagship of the range is the XJ saloon with an all-new, all-aluminium design. William Lyons' first sidecar used the same material and for the same reason - its exceptional lightness and strength. The elegant styling is distinctively Jaguar and 'under the skin', the XJ benefits from a new air suspension system and advanced technology to enhance safety, convenience and enjoyment. It also receives new petrol engines, ranging from a 3.0 litre V6 up to a 4.2 litre, supercharged V8.

The S-TYPE medium-sized sports saloon has a petrol engine line-up, which extends from a 2.5 litre V6 up to the supercharged V8. It also offers a brand-new 2.7 V6 twin-turbo diesel. Jaguar pioneered the medium sports saloon with the Mark 11 in the 1960s and the S-TYPE echoes aspects of its styling in a very contemporary way. The X-TYPE compact saloon joined the range in 2001, initially with 2.5 and 3.0 litre petrol V6 engines and standard Jaguar Traction, full-time, all wheel drive. Since then, 2.0 litre petrol V6 and 4-cylinder diesel engines have been added.

Jaguar launched its first-ever Estate as an addition to the X-TYPE range in 2004. The XK Series sports car was first launched in 1996 and significantly revised in 2002. It has become Jaguar's best-selling sports car ever and is available in coupe and convertible form with either a naturally aspirated or supercharged 4.2 litre petrol V8 engine.

Recent developments

The last ten years have seen a complete transformation of the Jaguar marque. Its status as a relatively small, independent company in the 1980s meant that investment in new product and facilities became increasingly difficult. But Jaguar retained the sense of pride, passion and aspiration, which has always attached to its name and this was recognised and respected by the Ford Motor Company. Survival, though, was still an issue because in the early 1990s annual worldwide sales had fallen to around 20,000 which was well behind the main competition.

As a measure of how far the marque has come in the past decade, annual worldwide sales in 2003 were over 130,000 - a new all-time record. The constant improvement of engineering and manufacturing processes has seen customer satisfaction levels improve sharply. Jaguar is also reaching out to new customers with the addition of high-tech diesel engines and the launch of the X-TYPE Estate. Jaguar's first-ever estate car offers the best load carrying capacity in its class. The appearance of the R-D6 concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2003 created a sensation, underlining Jaguar's commitment to high-performance diesel technology and heralding a new design direction. As a member of the Ford Motor Company's Premier Automotive Group - which also includes Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo - Jaguar is now looking confidently to the future.


In television and press advertising, the Jaguar logo is always linked to the line, 'Born to Perform' which highlights the sporting character of the marque. It was the desirability of the cars and the loyalty of customers, which kept Jaguar alive during difficult times in its history. In the 1990s, the company set about building more solid foundations for the future and what are called the 'rational reasons for purchase' - such as durability, quality and reliability. Today, Jaguar can justly claim to be totally competitive on this basis whilst retaining strong emotional appeal. It's a powerful combination, which gives the marque an individual character. TV campaigns are used selectively to promote brand awareness, particularly when a new model is launched. Press advertising features on a more sustained basis, balancing the cars' desirability with the rational reasons that justify their purchase.

As database technology becomes more developed, increasing use is also being made of Direct Marketing and CRM. As a more precise form of marketing, it allows the right people to be approached at the appropriate time in the ownership cycle. Jaguar also enhances the ownership experience by inviting customers to a wide variety of events in line with their interests.

Brand values

'Born to Perform' develops the template for the marque - 'Grace, Space and Pace' - established by Jaguar's founder, Sir William Lyons. He also positioned Jaguar as a brand people could genuinely aspire to own, not least because the cars have always represented excellent value-for-money. Distinctive styling and stimulating, powerful performance lie at the heart of the marque's appeal. But underlying the performance, there is also agility and control - expressed in the famous leaping Jaguar symbol.

The use of natural materials to create sporting, luxurious interior designs is another Jaguar trademark, alongside the deployment of advanced technology to enhance driving safety and enjoyment. Most importantly, today's Jaguars also enjoy an excellent reputation for product quality.

Things you didn't know

  • Jaguar has supplied over one hundred limousines to the British Royal Family.

  • The Jaguar C-TYPES that won Le Mans in 1953 were the first cars to be fitted with disc brakes. Previously, they had only been fitted to aircrafts.

  • Jaguar's factory at Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, was originally used to manufacture aircraft including the Spitfire and Lancaster.

  • 'Smart sensing' on every Jaguar tailors airbag deployment strength to the force of an impact. The system helps to reduce the risk of airbag-related injuries, especially for smaller front-seat occupants.

  • Aerospace manufacturing techniques were adapted to build the new XJ saloon. Structural adhesives and rivets are used to bond the aluminium body structure. The adhesives heatcure to optimal strength during the vehicle painting process.

  • The XKR Sports car was the first in the world to offer Adaptive Cruise Control. Radar sensors linked to the engine management and braking systems allow the driver to maintain a constant time based distance from the car in front.

    © 2004 Superbrands Ltd

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