Crystallizing a Future U.S. Auto Market: Brave New World

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A guest-post by Brian Tolle.

May 2017

Well, I finally did it. I bought a new car. Not that I needed one – my old 2007 Chrysler 300 was holding up fine (it helps that it only has 80,000 miles on it after 10 years) but the new model at Target looked so great with great gas mileage and the usual reliability, that I couldn’t pass it up. Of course I’m keeping my Chrysler since it is a collector’s item but now I’ve got an updated car that’s fun to drive and didn’t cost a fortune to buy.

I know I could have gone to Wal-Mart and gotten the same car for less. Even Nordstrom’s sells cars now but they have the Cadillacs from the old GM operations. Not quite sure about the quality. Compare that to the Target and Wal-Mart models. Magna of Canada makes both cars. Three years after the collapse of GM and Chrysler, they came out with a private label business model for cars. So I knew from my research that 80% of the Target and Wal-Mart cars are exactly identical – but it was that 20% that made all the difference to me. The Target car is fun to look at and drive (and it was 20% cheaper than the price I paid for my Chrysler ten years ago – with much better quality). Compare that to the Wal-Mart version, the Wally, and I was more than happy to pay more to get the same car, theoretically, but a completely different car in my eyes. There’s something about the look of the Target car – classic but not stuffy, serious but with a certain irreverence – just like me. And I think it’s great that Target didn’t brand the car – no nameplate. There was an article in Wired magazine where the Target marketing guy said,
From the very beginning, we felt the design of the car should “say” Target but the buyer’s reaction should be “that’s me.”
Of course the way Target displays its cars is fun. Their in-store display with their station wagon model and all the stuff for a picnic out in the country really stood out…almost like you could step right into that life and all of it could be yours. Those Target merchandising folks know what they’re doing. And just the other day I saw in my local Meijer their car version. And wouldn’t you know, these cars scream Midwest.

It couldn’t have been easier to actually buy the car. About two years ago I saw that Target was offering a premium Target charge card for a higher interest rate but the deal was that up to 1/3 of the price of a Target car could be financed through shopper rewards points. Since I always pay my monthly bill in full, it was a no-brainer. It took me two years to save up enough points for the sedan model I had been eyeing. The rest of the cost of the car I paid out of savings that I had put aside through the ING Direct promotion with Target. So I had my “financing” ready to go even before I showed up at the store.

Checking on the Target website, I knew which models were in the store and I could put a 24 hour hold on any model. I chose the blue metallic sedan that morning online and showed up ready to pick it up. I also set up the car insurance online through one of Target’s insurance partners so that when I arrived at the store and swiped my Target charge card, the insurance coverage was instantly activated. The only thing that slowed me down was talking with the Target employee. They hire local community college students who are in the auto mechanics program so they clearly love cars and talking about them to the customers. Otherwise, all I needed to do at the store was sign a few documents and drive away.

What’s also very cool is the plug-in diagnostics feature of the car. Part of the package I bought with this car was unlimited diagnostics. So I can pull up to any Target store, plug in the online diagnostics to the outside port on my car and it will give me a reading of what needs work and how serious the issue is. It also gives me the option of scheduling a service appointment with one of their partners (I think it’s Jiffy Lube) for an exact day and time. A friend of mine did this and noticed Jiffy Lube has an optical scanner when you pull into the lot that tells the mechanics who you are and what you need. In and out fast -- sweet.

And just think…I used to dread going to buy a car.

What would you add to this picture of a future U.S. auto market to make it even more real?

About Brian Tolle
Brian Tolle is President of The Tolle Group and also authors Corporate X-Ray, a blog that looks at the impact of corporate culture in the business world. He has a Masters of Science degree in Organization Development from Loyola University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from The Catholic University of America.

No comments:

Post a Comment