DR Jump-Starts the Automotive Industry1 Oct, 2009 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response
In 2009, a mention of the automotive industry rarely conjures up the television commercials of luxury cars and open roads that once filled American media. Now an industry plagued by bad sales in a flailing economy, it's all an advertiser can do to make customers believe that its brand is a safe choice — think of the recent offers to take back purchased vehicles if customers lose their jobs.
But despite the negative images of the automotive industry in the media, there is a group of marketers that are learning to take advantage of and sell what is important to consumers today. Budgeting advertising dollars carefully away from traditional to direct marketing, these industry leaders are rising to the top.
The fact remains that, no matter the economy, Americans need cars. But what a consumer looks for in a car has changed. It has always been about value and emotion — most consumers remember their first cars fondly. But the definition of value has shifted to economical, fuel-efficienct, safe — and even including provisions for job loss.
Now, marketers are working harder than ever to use measurable tactics to reach consumers in all stages of the automotive purchasing funnel, spanning the initial search for a new vehicle to driving it off the lot. And with fewer dollars to spend on widespread television branding, the dollars are being spent on targeted campaigns that are multi-channel, tap into new technologies and make marketers a part of the ongoing conversation.
The Value of Emotion
In a bad economy, it is all about sticking to the fundamentals — just ask Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing at Kia Motors America (KMA). This has been a big year for Kia, which launched four new products — the SOUL, Forte, Forte Koup and Sorento CUV, which will debut next year. While some of Kia's success can be attributed to good timing — the brand is known to be fuel-efficient and built for safety — targeted marketing has also played a large part in increased sales and brand awareness. Most importantly, the winning factor is great value. "Consumers are thinking value is chic," says Sprague. "This plays right into our strengths."