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Retention Is Key in the Auto Market

For 20 years one promotional products distributor in the Midwest has handled a steady stream of orders from upwards of eight local car dealers in his area. “We’ve dealt with them through good and bad,” so to speak, says the distributor.

And, while market swings have affected orders, none of that has affected them so much as the recent shift in how dealers are targeting clients these days. In particular, the distributor says, where once dealers were more focused on promotions to bring new customers into their showrooms, these days their marketing strategies are more about keeping existing clients. In fact, Goldblatt says, mailers urging consumers to test drive vehicles are almost nonexistent in his area.

“The loyalty fight is on, for sure,” says Brian Bolain, national marketing communications manager for Lexus, based in Torrance, CA.  The company, he says, predicts as many as 1 million additional cars to be sold this year above last year’s sales.

Still, “it’s more cost efficient to retain customers than to lose them and try to get them back,” he insists, adding that even though Lexus enjoys a loyal customer base with a retention rate upwards of 50%, they use regular promotional products and marketing campaigns to keep the clients they have.

In fact, Goldblatt works regularly with a local Lexus showroom and says the owner is more eager to market to existing customers with regular mailers and thank you gifts (think high-end umbrellas and travel mugs) meant to entice buyers back in.

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