Polk Co. introduced an Internet-based dealer marketing system at the NADA convention.
The Polk Dealer Marketing Manager collects customer information electronically from the dealer's database, checks it for accuracy and combines it with Polk's consumer demographic information.
'Dealers in the United States collectively spend $5 billion to $6 billion a year on marketing,' said Bill Barrett, managing director of Transportation Information Services for Southfield, Mich.-based Polk Co. 'This tool helps them maximize those marketing dollars.'
The system has three major components:
The Quick Profiling feature allows a dealer to identify former and prospective customers to market such specials as rebates either directly or through the appropriate media that targets those customers.
The Market Discovery component provides a detailed profile of a particular buyer group in the area; for instance, Ford Mustang owners in the western Detroit suburbs.
A Build Your Own profile allows dealers to further customize demographic information.
'The demographics of the local customer often are different from those identified by the manufacturer,' Barrett said.
The system already is in use at 80 dealerships. It costs about $10,000 to $12,000 per year, he said.
Polk released results of a loyalty study that backs up its efforts for dealers. The study shows that the dealership salesperson and service department play a greater role in creating dealer loyalty than manufacturer efforts, product and financing. Of nine factors measured, the attitude of the sales staff combined with the service experience account for nearly 43 percent of what drives dealer loyalty.
Another Polk study predicts that if dealer consolidation continues at the current rate, there will be 20,770 new-car dealerships by 2005 and 18,673 in 2010, a 17 percent drop in a decade. There are 6,100 fewer dealerships today than there were in 1979, according to Polk.
A third Polk study showed owners of vehicles that were custom-ordered from the manufacturer are more loyal to the same make than off-the-lot buyers. More than half of the owners who custom-ordered their previous vehicle and bought again in the first half of 1999 repurchased the same make. Luxury and pickup buyers who custom-ordered were the most loyal.
In terms of brand loyalty, Ford, by far, ranked at the top, followed by Chevrolet, Toyota, Honda and Mercury, respectively.