How Subaru's Marketing Is Making People Want Options They Don't Need

Illustration for article titled How Subarus Marketing Is Making People Want Options They Dont Need

Right now car buyers are being convinced by some clever marketing to spend way too much on their next Subaru. I feel it is my responsibility, no, my duty, to reveal a brand new secret to saving money on these cars. All it takes is some focus, diligence, and a keen sense of situational awareness.

This is an ad for Subaru's is a pretty amazing piece of technology that warns you of potential collisions with pedestrians or other vehicles. It will even apply the brakes if the car senses that a frontal crash is imminent. Subarus equipped with Eyesight are "safer" according to the IIHS. It also makes them more expensive, harder to find, and thus more difficult to get a good deal. I recently had a customer who was convinced that he needed a brand new Subaru Legacy with the Eyesight package.


I did some shopping in his area and found that very few dealers had Legacy Premiums with Eyesight. Those that did had a waiting list for incoming vehicles. Think about that for a moment...a waiting list, not for a 707 horsepower Challenger Hellcat, but for a mid-size family sedan with 175 horsepower. It turns out he was not the only buyer that was convinced due to some very good commercials that their Legacy simply would not be safe enough without that Eyesight package.

When I was gathering quotes from the dealerships in his area, I found something surprising. Out of six dealerships, the average discount off MSRP for a 2015 Legacy Premium with Eyesight was a mere $1,500. Some stores offered more, some were less, but a $1,500 savings on a $26,000 sedan is pretty pathetic. The reason the discount is so terrible is simple supply and demand. More people want these cars than can get them. Therefore, dealers are not real motivated to go deep in order to move a unit off the lot.


Suppose my customer wanted a regular Legacy Premium without the Eyesight. The average discount was around $2,700, with an offer up to $3,200 off MSRP. The Eyesight package adds about $1,200 to the cost of a new Legacy, but when you factor in the average savings between the two cars, it is a $2,400 difference in the final sale price.

So I asked him, "Why would you spend all this extra money for the Eyesight package?"

"I want a safe car." he told me.

So then I say, "How many accidents have you been in in the past five years where you needed your car to stop because you didn't apply the brakes?"


"Um...never. I've never been in accident in all the years I have been driving."

I follow up with, "How many times have you avoided an accident because you were paying attention to the cars around you and you stopped in time so that everyone was safe."


"Oh plenty of times."

"So if you consider yourself a vigilant driver, why pay an extra $2400 for a system that you most likely will not use?"


He was not convinced...if he was going to buy a Subaru he had to have that Eyesight package. Then proceeded to get angry when he would offer to buy a car for invoice price and the dealers would just simply refuse the offer.

My experience with Subaru's Eyesight pricing was not unique to the Legacy or this particular metro area. There were several other deals I brokered where Eyesight vehicles were in short supply and thus, offered little in the way of discounts. Of course if you can get a great deal on an Eyesight Subaru and you like the extra peace of mind, go for it.


I should mention that the only vehicle that does not have an Eyesight option is the WRX. That is because all WRX drivers are really rally pilots who think three turns ahead and have a co-driver to keep watch. Either that or they are twenty-two year old hoons, whose driving style can be summed up with YOLO.

When you are shopping for your next new car, be aware of popular options on your particular vehicle that may be in high demand with limited inventory. If dealers are selling them as fast as they arrive, your negotiation leverage may be reduced. Ask yourself if this feature is really a "must have," and compare the discounts to vehicles without that option.


If you have a question, a tip, or something you would like to to share about car-buying, drop me a line at and be sure to include your Kinja handle.

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Let me fix that for you Tom.

How Marketing Is The Art Of Making People Want Things They May Not Need.


-A Marketer.