But only 11 percent of those people went on to buy

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Unformatted text preview: makers of another leading SUV, the bottleneck appeared further downstream. This model, seen as unique and as the most fun to drive of the cars in our study, appeared on the highest percentage of buyers’ shortlists for purchase. But only 11 percent of those people went on to buy that brand, while 15 percent ultimately bought an Explorer. Shoppers were being turned off by their treatment at the hands of the salespeople and by the showrooms’ appearance. Weaknesses in the process and relationship sides of brand management were keeping people from moving beyond short-listing the vehicle. One alternative is suggested by Saab, which uses remote brand-information centers, special events, and invitations to selected prospects to test-drive its (134-143)Q1'02_AutoBrand_v8 1/7/02 10:55 AM Page 141 R E V V I N G UP AU TO BR A NDI N G vehicles. Thus Saab has reduced traditional sales pressure to “buy now,” though sales in France rose by 33 percent. Expand the range of consumer benefits Relationship and process benefits are often the keys to unlocking bottlenecks in the car purchasing funnel. Saturn, for instance, is famous for its low-key, no-haggling sales policy—its greatest brand differentiator since entering the market in 1990. Saturn’s innovative sales process addressed two classic bottlenecks, occurring between consideration and short-listing and between short-listing and purchase. To convey a fuller range of benefits at a number of points along the funnel, carmakers can use special events to promote interaction with a brand before consumers make contact with dealers. Some carmakers hold events such as the Jeep Jamboree—back-country festivals where thousands of enthusiasts reinforce one another’s commitment to the brand and go on to evangelize the unconverted. Carmakers can also communicate with the consumer on-line at the company Web site, refurbish their showrooms, train their sales forces to satisfy more demanding upscale buyers, and deliver demonstration models to the homes of people reluctant to visit dealerships. Our study of one manufacturer suggests that such efforts could cost $15 million but would pay for themselves in about three years—and sooner if the company targeted its efforts at freer-spending market segments. Concentrate on consumer touch points The auto sector, perhaps more than any other,...
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