Car brands 'need to rethink sales strategy'

By Brendan Coyne | 27 February 2013

Automotive retailers need to become story tellers. Not peddling tales that stretch the truth about performance data, but emotive brand stories. That's because consumers already know what they want to buy before they reach the showroom.

Meanwhile, senior brand management, need to stop obsessing about the 'new' customer “like they are some kind of new species.” That's the view of TMS head of strategy and insights Helen Karabassis.

The customers are the same people, it's just that their attitude and behaviour has changed. Expectations are higher, they have apps, multiple screens, they have knowledge.”

She cites Google data that 84% of people have researched their car purchase online an average of 13 times. Last month's Nielsen data suggested 40% of potential buyers would take a virtual test drive.

Nevertheless, the outcome remains the same: they want to purchase. So the role of the salesman and the environment must adapt to providing an experience over an exchange.

Karabassis said industry needed to catch up with changing purchasing habits and that one brand, potentially at the luxury end of the market, should break cover and try a test store based on brand experience.

However, she added that there was “a lot invested in the bricks and mortar” of the current set up.

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