“Are you married to your car brand?”
A recent WSJ.com article discusses the importance of brand loyalty in the automobile industry and ‘how auto makers keep you coming back.’ As several auto makers have struggled during the recession, new incentives are now being offered to customers in hopes that they remain brand loyal. Auto makers such as Ford and GM are using loyalty tools to track their customers as they spend a significant amount less on repeat customers. Ford uses data from its financing department to target customers when it’s time for an upgrade, and GM has a “GM Preferred Owner” program that allows customers to collect points for discounts on repairs or new cars.
According to the article, “48% of people who bought a car in 2012 bought from the same brand they were already driving.” These incentives focus on building a relationship with the customer – something we have discussed in Brand Management over the past two weeks. Customers become attached to their first car and now with these programs, auto makers such as Ford and GM are hoping to keep you a customer for life.
While I do think these auto makers are trying to keep the customer a high priority, where do you draw the line in the customer/auto maker relationship? Yes, customers want great value for their money and good service, but how often do they want to be contacted by the dealership? And just simply because they have the points, does that mean they want or need a new car?