Dacia Duster: when the marketer doesn’t do its job

Dacia Duster – Image courtesy of Wikipedia

I was recently travelling across Europe by car and it was interesting seeing many Dacia Duster SUVs on the motorway, particularly in Croatia and France.  It made me think of it as a model enjoying a reasonable success.  Dacia, according to Wikipedia, is a Romanian car manufacturer that is now owned by the French car manufacturer Renault.

The reason I have used an aggressive title for this post is because every time I saw the word Duster on the back of these cars I felt it just wrong… perhaps the people who ultimately agreed to call a car with this name are not English speaker or perhaps they don’t speak it well but Duster it just unsuitable for a car.

I can even try to imagine why this name was chosen; it’s an SUV, a sport utility vehicle, something you’d not go for heavy off road tracks but something that being biggish and with high clearance under the engine will allow some light off road, dusty tracks and hence the name.

This way of thinking would have been ok in the 20th century, before Internet and Google.  Today it’s enough to Google search the word duster and immediately you have a list that, apart from the adverts and reviews of the car discussed in this post, talks about several unrelated definitions:

  • a long coat that horse riders used to wear to avoid getting their clothes full of dust
  • a person that is very bad at sports
  • several adverts about tools to remove dust

Naming a new company, product or service is one of the most important decisions for a business. When I studied marketing I remember that, before taking the final decision, an extensive research about the expected new name should be undertaken, in order for it to be compatible with cultural, language and religious expectations of potential buyers, particularly nowadays as we live in a global world where everything is interconnected and anything published anywhere can potentially be seen, read or heard from anywhere else.

I see the Dacia Duster falling in the same category of the Chevrolet Nova that never sold well among Spanish Speaking populations as “no va” in Spanish means “doesn’t work” or the Volkswagen Bora that has a denigrating meaning in the Lazio region of Italy (burino/a or boro/a means chav) .   Marketing for cars is very interesting as they are goods that cost substantial amounts of money and usually last for long time; research must take into account fashion, demographic, gender and geographic location of the buyer.  For a car manufacturer designing a new car is a large investment that often involves body, engine, mechanical parts and the image it wants to deliver; I am disappointed and surprised how little attention was paid when deciding this name.

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