Cadillac: A Mature Premium Luxury Brand Remains Relevant

With Hossein Hassani—managing director, Cadillac Canada
February 28, 2018 Updated: March 2, 2018

Some 10 months ago, Hossein Hassani (who it appears is called Hoss by all) assumed the mantle of managing director for Cadillac Canada. As 2017 was not only a good year for the man, personally, but Cadillac as a brand achieved its highest Canadian sales ever with 13,330 units sold. “That’s five years in a row of increased sales,” Mr. Hassani interjected with pride.

On a busy media day at the 2018 Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS) we met up with Mr. Hassani and chatted generally about Cadillac and how it carves a unique path to remain relevant in a crowded market place.

Is there any one thing which the brand can attribute to these recent success stories?

“First, the product portfolio we have today is formidable. The Escalade, launched 20 years ago is still going strong. In fact, year over year, more customers seem to be falling in love with the Escalade—regardless of the changes made by our designers and engineers. Second, the XT5, one of our latest additions came out of the gate running (spring of 2016). This vehicle contributes to almost 50 percent of our sales in this country and it’s a leader in the compact luxury crossover segment.”

That’s the product side. Are there other factors in play? Hr. Hassani continued. “Perhaps the thing that contributes most is the relationship we have with our dealer network. The 121 dealers across the country—they’re incredible partners in this journey we’re making together. Many of the initiatives we set forth as a company originate within this group of motivated and supportive people.”

“At the end of the day, something is definitely connecting with our customers. We can’t really single out if it’s the marketing—or what. Product? No doubt, but there is something more than that which draws brand loyalty. Our customers respect the brand and its long-standing traditions. As a mature brand, however, we cannot rest on past laurels, past success. We must innovate to maintain demand.”

“Look at the super cruise feature on the phenomenal CT6, a luxury sedan loaded with safety features and innovative technology. The world’s first true hands-free driving system for the freeway—and it’s in a Cadillac.”

As one of the world’s long-established luxury brands, any manufacturer might willingly become complacent. Not so the designers and engineers at Cadillac. “The spirit of innovation and invention is part of our history as a brand, and we see this as being key today, to ensure our relevance to loyal customers—and new conquests, too.”

“Combine everything, and the sum of the parts demonstrate why the Cadillac brand continues to grow in a highly competitive marketplace,” states Mr. Hassani.

We then asked another question: what is Cadillac’s unique selling proposition? Frankly, before the sentence was finished, Mr. Hassani stated quickly and emphatically, “Passion!” The response was locked and loaded long before, it seemed, the question was even formulated! Not a word that anyone might readily associate with any brand, especially a manufacturer of higher-end automobiles.

“I’m loathe to draw any comparison with any competitors. Passion describes this brand, in my mind, perfectly. Everyone who participates in the premium luxury category is focused. Focused on left brain dimensions and engineering prowess—all of which is great. Cadillac can talk about our engineering aptitude all day long and go toe-to-toe with anybody. In the end, what does set Cadillac apart, especially when you look at the heritage and legacy of Cadillac and frankly the richness of our cultural relevance, it’s passion that makes Cadillac stand apart.”

Leaning in, Mr. Hassani’s enthusiasm was evident. “Even as we continue with the development of autonomous vehicles, we still need, no, want to examine the role of the driver and yes, even the passenger in that scenario. How does everything work together? Is it all about tech? No, the human component is still integral. Without that, there would be no fervour, no excitement in designing and building the best, most enjoyable mode of transport we are able. It’s this passion which sets us apart.”

To Mr. Hassani and Cadillac, he notes that today’s consumer is making better, more informed choices and decisions—especially in the area of luxury. Regardless of the product. What they decide to drive is no exception. So long as Cadillac continues to embody the North American incarnation of a luxury automobile, barring a major swing in trends, this pattern will continue.

David Taylor is an independent automotive lifestyle writer, producer, and editor based in Barrie, Ontario who is fascinated by innovation and technology which enhance the overall driving experience. He’s also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) and is a Director of that organization’s Canadian Car of the Year Award. Follow him on Twitter @Omemeeozzie or on Instagram @hugoscaroftheweek.