Peugeot’s new distributor in Australia admits the French brand faces a serious challenge, as it seeks to take on European and Asian rivals in what is one of the most fiercely fought automotive markets in the world. But, its high brand awareness is a huge asset that will eventually pay dividends, the company says.

Speaking to CarAdvice at the Australian launch of the new Peugeot 3008, Nick Senior, the Asia-Pacific boss of Inchcape, which distributes the Subaru and Peugeot brands in Australia, said the real task is to get that awareness of the Peugeot brand – which has been in Australia for over a century – to drive more people into showrooms.

“There’s a challenge ahead because while there is awareness of the Peugeot brand, and that’s reasonably high awareness in the high eighties [percentage], it’s not translating into consideration, which is very poor,” Senior told CarAdvice.

“So we have got to dial up the marketing, the product and the dealer network so we can get a much higher conversion rate from the awareness into the consideration set.”

Once that awareness actually results in more potential customers walking into showrooms, Senior believes the operation will kick into gear with a workable business model for the French manufacturer, the dealer network and Inchcape itself.

“Once we get it into consideration set, that’s when we can start building the value and the share and the profitability for the dealer network.”

That dealer network, which currently consists of 38 Peugeot and 27 Citroen dealers (19 of which are combined) will also likely be reduced in a rationalisation program that forms the next five-year plan for the French brands.

“We have put together in conjunction with PSA (PSA Groupe, parent company of the two French brands) a five-year plan, and that has certain criteria and goals and targets… that’s the first five years, where we want to stabilise and then grow the business.”

The difficulties of the task ahead are not lost on Senior, who admits the process of making the French brands successful in Australia will be long-term and hard-fought.

“Let us be frank: It’s a challenge and it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take PSA, our dealer network and ourselves working very, very hard to achieve success and that’s medium to long term.”

Peugeot will launch the 3008 SUV this month, followed by the updated 308 in September before the arrival of the seven-seater 5008 at the very end of the year. Watch for our Australian first-drive review to come soon, and read our international drive below.