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Comment: Don’t underestimate the power of ‘look and feel’

Time 6 months ago

A few months back, I advised that I was certain the motor trade would be in for a surge in sales following the Christmas break.

The reason I said this was that we were all due to go into a national lockdown yet again and that many consumers had been putting off large purchases throughout the year.

It was also a fact that consumer savings had been continuing to grow.

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Unfortunately, this surge didn’t come to fruition, as reopening in full wasn’t possible at the time, but I still believe this surge is just around the corner.

While we are fully aware there has been a rise in the number of consumers who are willing to buy a vehicle without a test drive, via either click-and-collect or delivery, we are also aware that many dealers are already seeing a steady increase week on week.

But we all know this is a minimal amount compared with those who still want to buy following a visit to a dealership.

In marketing, we talk a lot about the ‘look and feel’ of a product or service, and in car sales the look and feel is obviously a significant area for the majority of customers – many consumers will still want and need a full service sale.


Writing this has reminded me of one of my first projects working for this amazing company and industry.

The project was looking into a new point-of-sale merchandise item and I chose to produce branded air fresheners.

At the time, one of our customer relationship managers turned to me and said: ‘If only we could get an air freshener that bottled that new car smell.’

To be honest, at the time I had no idea what he was on about, as I had never bought a car nor had I sat in a new one!

Sixteen years on and obviously things have changed a little, and yes, due to the pandemic many consumers have bought a car without the appreciation of its look and feel.

However, according to a recent YouGov survey of 1,873 UK drivers commissioned by the Motor Ombudsman, almost two-thirds (62 per cent) stated that they’d want to visit a showroom in person before buying a car.

I know there are disrupters in the car market, and I do believe they’ll continue to do well, but I also believe that for the majority of buyers the ‘needs and wants’ still include ‘look and feel’ before purchasing and will do for some time.

Consumers in the main still want to sit in a vehicle, smell that new car fragrance, hear the roar of the engine and feel how it handles a corner before they part with their hard-earned cash.

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Just like in June last year, be ready for the pent-up demand!

Ben Garside is marketing manager for First Response. Call him on 07817 518739 or email [email protected]

This column appears in the current edition of Car Dealer. To read more like it and plenty more, click on the magazine below.

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Car Dealer has been covering the motor trade since 2008 as both a print and digital publication. In 2020 the title went fully digital and now provides daily motoring updates on this website for the car industry. A digital magazine is published once a month.

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