Extending automotive brands beyond the dealership

We look at how manufacturers and dealers have utilised different locations and tactics to showcase their products and how effective this has been for increasing brand awareness and sales.

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Away from the traditional dealership, retail spaces for brand building are in sharp focus for car manufacturers and their retailer partners. That’s because automotive brands are part of a lifestyle choice, so they need to get closer to customers than ever before, in a range of different ways, in order to align with target customer lifestyles and tap into their aspirations.

With the concept of car usership as opposed to ownership shaping the market, particularly in light of a growing shift towards electrification, the need for powerful car brands which resonate with consumers on issues that matter to them is only going to become more important. Whilst consumers may not want to own cars in the future, they will still want access to them, so manufacturers need to respond accordingly.

There’s no doubting the strides the automotive retail sector has made in being more accessible and convenient. Whether that’s through stores in shopping areas, online configurators, or extended test drives from home, cars are coming to where customers are.

We at Autoglym will evolve as well, so that we remain relevant and continue to bring innovation and value to all of our customers.

One of the biggest current trends is selling more than just a car. Although not yet available in the UK, the ‘Intersect by Lexus’ concept is one example. It’s purely aspirational with the objective of making the visitor want to own a Lexus by selling the accompanying lifestyle, not the vehicle. The Intersect space in New York has a coffee shop, restaurant, art gallery and a retail area, none of which feature an actual car.

Lexus wants to connect with customers in such a way as to influence them to choose its products in the future. Although this ambitious approach may be perceived as somewhat adventurous, requiring significant investment, it’s being adopted by other manufacturers too.

Here in the UK, Ford opened a space inside Next’s Arndale Centre flagship store in Manchester. Ford recognised that when someone comes to a showroom it suggests a strong intention to buy, but customers may be thinking about the possibility of getting a new car long before that. By being able to discover and explore Ford cars while out shopping for other things, future customers can get started on their journey to buying much earlier. Ford also benefits from Next’s footfall and location rather than trying to open a comparable space of its own.

Dealers will, of course, continue to use conventional channels to sell the majority of their vehicles, as people generally want to see and drive the actual product before they buy it but there has been an emergence of complementary formats, such as digital ‘virtual reality’ stores and pop-up outlets at larger retail shopping centres. These ventures, often in partnership with specialist providers, have had mixed results.

Dealers are faced with a ‘double whammy.’ Capital costs for opening a new dealership have soared, whereas increased business rates, property leases and employment costs, for example, have all made running a dealership that much more expensive. Against these factors is the constantly advancing technology in the products themselves. Certain car models now have a service interval of 18,000 miles, meaning it could be over 18 months before the owner needs to contact the dealership to arrange a service.

In whatever form future brand building channels take, we at Autoglym will evolve as well, so that we remain relevant and continue to bring innovation and value to all of our customers. In an ever-changing marketplace, dealers are working harder than ever before, not only to secure a sale in the first place, but to make sure that when those welcome customers sign across the bottom line, there’s as much profit in there as possible.

The Autoglym Professional range has grown into one that covers every aspect of vehicle preparation and represents the industry’s best value in terms of cost per use. Its uniquely British formulation means that even if your used car stock sits outside in what passes for our weather, the polishes, dressings and treatments will stay put for longer. That means less re-detailing costs, and that means more bottom line.

In addition, Autoglym offers its LifeShine Vehicle Protection System (VPS) to add a little sparkle, not only to the paint and trim, but also to the deal itself. With its attractive cost, easy application, high durability and excellent earning potential, LifeShine is a most useful string to the sales bow.

To find out more about how Autoglym can boost your business, get in touch.

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