Don't be surprised if General Motors new-vehicle sales in August look anemic in comparison with June and July, when the GM Employee Discount for Everyone lit up the scoreboard.
The summer blowout sale cleared out most of the remaining 2005 models, which leaves slim pickings on many dealership lots.
That's a great opportunity because it gives GM a clean slate to launch its 2006 models with a new transaction pricing strategy that de-emphasizes incentives. GM plans to lower some sticker prices, making them closer to what consumers are willing to pay.
It's also a challenge because there are data suggesting GM may have just pulled sales ahead from the fourth quarter rather than taking business away from its competitors.
But there is a larger issue that could cast a shadow over the new value pricing plan. The employee-discount incentives may have made the problem worse, not better.
Consumers are more addicted than ever to incentives, according to a new study by AutoVIBES, which is a monthly study from Harris Interactive and Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research that tracks consumer automotive buying intentions.
The most recent study found that of those consumers planning to buy a car in the next year, two-thirds said incentives influence their choice of make and model. And 51 percent said they weren't likely to buy a vehicle that doesn't have an incentive.
That's a challenge. And it's an opportunity.
Give GM credit for trying to break the incentive addiction. But if value pricing were easy, everybody would do it.
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