The life cycle of an auto manufacturer’s reputation is usually measured in years, if not decades. Convincing consumers that your vehicles are more reliable, cost effective or better suited to their needs is often perceived within the industry as a product of time more than marketing.
This doesn’t have to be the case, however. There are a number of strategic moves that can be implemented that can shift public perception about your vehicles that will ultimately rebrand your car manufacturer.
Many of these strategies can be employed at the manufacturer level, while others can be implemented by dealerships. The key is to collaborate and utilize available tools.
- Listen to consumer feedback – Marketing your automobiles begins with asking for feedback. Once you identify the weaknesses associated with your brand, you can start developing strategies to combat that. If consumers believe that your vehicles are less safe than other manufacturers, you can work on marketing campaigns that highlight safety features. This can be accomplished at almost any level of distribution. Dealerships can post video testimonials by customers about key features of the cars they purchased that counter public perception.
- Stand behind your vehicle – No consumer wants to purchase a vehicle that is going to require constant maintenance or repair; reliability is a key factor in auto reputation. At the manufacturer level, it is important to convey to the public that you believe in the reliability of your vehicle. Hyundai’s introduction of a 10-year/100,000 mile power train protection is a prime example of that; consumers may not understand the details of the guarantee, but they recognize that Hyundai is willing to at least ensure part of their automobile will last for a decade. At the dealership level, owners can also communicate high quality by providing service protection plans over several years. Especially with brands that the public perceives as less reliable, this can be a huge selling point.
- Be enthusiastic – An emotional connection to a product is something any consumer can identify with. There may not always be a quick solution to a brand issue, so you may wish to communicate to consumers that many owners love this product. This enthusiasm begins with employees at all levels of the industry. From the manufacturing floor supervisor to the showroom salesperson, enthusiasm is infectious. Institute programs that help employees appreciate their products. These programs need to be revitalized on a regular basis to maintain employee excitement. Genuine positivity about the vehicle is something that consumers will respond to.
- Communicate change – Consumers have settled into a relationship with your manufacturer, which is going to take a jolt to alter. The first step in convincing them your company is better is convincing them that your company is committed to changing and improving. You may not be able to demonstrate a radical leap forward in every underperforming category, but if you can show consumers that you are dedicated to providing a better product, they will give you the opportunity to tell them the steps you are taking.
Consumers have had years to develop opinions about various car manufacturers, so change won’t come overnight. With innovation, creativity and a product you truly believe in, this change can occur, however. Start within the organization and work outwards. Once you and your team are convinced this is the best possible product for the public, they will begin to believe it as well.