Driving Sales Up

15 01 2009

In this recession the automotive sector is being hit particularly hard. There are a number of reasons for this, including:


  • Consumer confidence is low.
  • Purchasing decisions are being deferred.
  • Cars are generally very reliable so they don’t need to be replaced.
  • Upgrading is being replaced by making-do as a mind-set.
  • Increasing personal debt is being shunned due to uncertainty about the future.
  • New car sales are in increasing competition with used car sales.


As this sector is of significant importance to the UK economy, the current and rapid collapse in new car sales needs to be addressed. However, this is going to be a very tough one to turn around.


Yet as ever there are things that can be done to win sales even in such difficult times. Simply advertising more won’t be enough instead it is going to be critically important to spend time improving targeting and redefining the messages and even the product offer.


For example:


  • Not all consumers are going to be as affected by the recession. The more insulated groups include for example:
    • Civil Servants
    • Pensioners
    • Emergency services professionals
    • The teaching profession

Yes within in each of these groups there will be variations in terms of employment contract and levels of income, but many of them are people who enjoy higher levels of job security or good pension incomes. This doesn’t mean they won’t be feeling the need to cut back a bit, but at the same time they will be in a better position than most to consider a significant purchase such as a new car.

So there would seem to be logic to targeting these and other similar groups.

Here women are being targeted as buyers for a small car that is being reinvented as a style icon, (not my words). Whilst the creative execution is excellent, you have to question whether this is the time to slice off big chunks of your potential customer base. To illustrate this I can reveal that I drive a small car (it makes sense), my uncle always has owned small cars, and my rugby playing personal trainer has a Fiesta. So either we are all doing something wrong or Ford no longer wants to sell us a Fiesta because our gender is wrong?

So should we change the way we market cars – Yes. Right now we need to start giving people real reasons why they should buy the product. This could include: fuel efficiency, lower running costs, warranties and reliability.

Essentially buying new must be seen to make more sense than buying used. Mini with their exceptional service package have successfully done this, and it surprises me that other manufactures haven’t followed suit.


By delivering new messages to the most appropriate target groups manufactures would at least be maximising their opportunity to win sales in the current economic climate, simply trying to fight on price alone will not be sufficient to win sales from a disinterested customer base.






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