Brand analysis: „Made in Germany“ virtues could result in positive image transfer of technological expertise in favour of Peugeot and Citroën

The possible takeover of the GM daughters Opel and Vauxhall by the PSA Group offers tremendous opportunities but also presents brand strategy challenges.

From a brand strategy perspective, it should be noted that both PSA and General Motors have established an umbrella brand strategy with a multi-brand system. In the case of the PSA Group, the product brands are Peugeot and Citroën, in the portfolio of General Motors are the brands of Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac, among others.

As always, we consider the upper quartile of the results, that is, the 25 percent of the attributes most commonly mentioned in English-language Internet communications for the respective brand in our POWERMETRICS analyses.

At a first glance, it is striking that the PSA Group is almost unknown to the general public – in strong contrast to General Motors, who have invested continuously in the image of the holding corporation’s brand. The PSA Group, in contrast, acts as a pure holding-company with very limited proprietary brand communications. With 41 times more results than the PSA Group, General Motors is a clear communication step ahead of its competitor.

Both GM and PSA are positioned in the rational-distanced quadrant (Q-II) of the Brand Map, with PSA with only 6 percentage points of difference exhibiting a strong tendency towards the much more emotional, more open quadrant Q-IV – where also PSA’s automobile brands can be located. GM, on the other hand, is clearly positioned in Q-II with more than 40% of the results.

From the view of communications, the Opel brand is perceived as slightly stronger than its holding General Motors with 21.7% more results. The Opel brand is primarily recognized as being honest and established, but despite the marketing efforts of the past few years still perceived as old-fashioned. Therefore, in the event of a takeover, it will play a decisive role in future success how Opel integrates into the brand portfolio of PSA, whose Peugeot brand strikes with the dominant brand attribute of „sovereignty“ being most associated with Peugeot.

Possible strategies would be: A) maintaining Opel’s image as a „loyal companion“, or B) transferring the innovative, sporty, competitive image of PSA’s Peugeot to Opel / Vauxhall.

In both cases, there would be opportunities for a clear positioning against competitors. While Audi and Ford have a very similar brand image based on the analysis of their international communications (Audi being associated with attributes such as simple – happy – lovely – efficient vs. Ford with friendly – young – happy), Opel shares the second quadrant (rational / distanced) of the Brand Map among others with Volkswagen (efficient – competitive – straight). Peugeot finds itself in the haze of the highly emotionally positioned brands of BMW (exclusive – creative – exciting) and Porsche (strong – urban – dynamic).


The virtues of reliability and technical competence suggested in the branding of Opel strongly conveys its background of „German Engineering“ and all aspects of technical knowhow associated with „Made in Germany“.

From a brand strategy point of view, this implies a recommendation to the leadership of the PSA Group to maintain the production location Germany in the long term. With appropriate cooperation and communications in place, this could result in a positive image transfer of technological expertise in favour of Peugeot and Citroën.

Keywords:General Motors, PSA Groupe, brand analysis, takeover, Opel, POWERMETRICS, POWERGROUP, Peugeot