Buying a New Car in the 21st Century – A Look Back

Purchasing a new car has greatly changed with the rise of the internet. As a kid, I remember my mom taking an afternoon to purchase a car. The vehicle in question was test driven, the old car appraised for next to nothing, papers were signed, and that was the end of it. We never went back to the dealership, save for something being wrong with the new car. Also the dealership never contacted my mother. Once the car was purchased, that was the end of it.

This is not the way things are today when buying a new vehicle. Of course the driving and signing your life away is the same, but the communication with the dealership and the company is not over once the dealer hands over the keys. I know this because I purchased a new 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sport in early March, and the company is still engaging in communication with me. This week a letter arrived in the mail from the Jeep Brand. Inside was an informational pamphlet about my vehicle and support services offered with it.  Note that is also full of advertisements for warranties, parts, clothing, etc., but there was also a rehashing of information I previously obtained about ways in which the company was engaging the customer.

One key difference between buying a new vehicle from when I was younger to now is that when I purchased my Wrangler, the dealer asked for my email address. Naturally, I thought this was for advertisements, but was surprised when I got home that I had received an email that was not an advertisement. It was a link to a website run by the Chrysler Group called the Mopar Owner Center. This site allows the user to create an account, bind the new vehicle’s VIN to the account, and track the maintenance of the vehicle. This site is tied to Chrysler’s databases, so any and all maintenance records performed at a dealership are instantly available to the user. It also allows for the addition of custom records, in case the you like to change the oil yourself.

I personally find this amazing. I know that giving someone a small amount of space in the database to save their information and allow them to access it isn’t a big deal from a tech standpoint, but from the average person’s standpoint, it is a very useful and intriguing tool. It shows that the company cares about the buyer in the long term.  In addition to access to this site, I’ve already been asked to complete two surveys for Chrysler about my vehicle, my buying experience, etc. and receive the letter mentioned earlier. Included in the letter was a leather keychain with “Jeep” on one side and “Wrangler” on the other. I know that this is just a small item, but I think it is a fantastic marketing tool.

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Companies are beginning to focus more on brand loyalty, and in doing so I believe on the way to building better vehicles. By sending things such as pamphlets and keychains, a company can keep a buyer interested in communicating with the company, which allows for better data collection without buyers feeling hassled by the company. With better feedback, companies know what consumers think could be done better and design and market appropriately. The consumer also feels that the company is truly interested in the customer, and not just the profit margin; therefore the consumer is more likely to continue buying a certain brand.

This new mode of operation by companies has greatly changed the way one thinks about buying a new vehicle. No longer is the transaction over once the papers are signed. Instead, the company creates a lasting bond with the consumer that benefits both parties in the long run.

– J. Potts, Automotive Contributor for The Spirited Drive

– Edited by JRB, Editor of The Spirited Drive

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