Rapidly evolving technology means it's not uncommon to pay bills or even shop for groceries on-line. But will the purchase of your new car be next?
"Not for a long time" says Sean Uys, 3D director at Enterprise IG. "If there is one thing South African's love besides sport, it's cars. Our mode of transport isn't simply a means of getting us from A to B but rather a reflection of who we are, who we want to be." And such an emotional asset requires an emotional purchase.
Enterprise IG, the global brand design agency, has been working with some of SA's largest car manufacturers, including Volkswagen, Audi and more recently DaimlerChrysler South Africa, to create the ultimate car purchasing environment. "The days of a simple dealership with a few cars on the showroom floor are over," says Uys. "Historically the only differentiation factor between dealerships was the product on the showroom floor. Dealers tended to rely on the product rather than the brand to drive sales. In most cases unkempt dealership facilities have ultimately led to the eroding of the brand.
"Consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated. They want to enter a showroom and feel the brand. The Mercedes-Benz driver wants to walk into a dealership and breathe the exclusivity of the brand. He wants the showroom floor to emulate his perception that by aligning himself with the brand, he has 'arrived'. Similarly Mitsubishi drivers want to feel the prickle of adrenalin and the excitement of performance driven vehicles as they set foot into their dealership. The environment needs to be a reflection of the brand the driver aligns themselves to," adds Uys.
With the aid of Enterprise IG's brand design expertise, DaimlerChrysler South Africa is taking the automobile purchasing environment to a new level by redefining their franchise territories. This involves the rollout of a dealership stratification programme for their product offerings, including Mercedes Benz, Mitsubishi, Chrysler and Jeep.
"Our strategy was to turn the dealership into a brand destination where consumers can live the brand," says Uys. "It's about encapsulating the brand essence and translating it into every aspect of the brand's environment, from the flooring to the furniture right through to layout and shape of the physical structure.
Flagship to the new dealership stratification is the Lifestyle Centre. Each Lifestyle Centre will house a large display of merchandising and products applicable to the brand. The ultimate goal is to compliment vehicle sales with a variety of lifestyle elements and graphics, providing a destination that will be visited by both existing and future brand owners. This means that consumers will not only be able to view their desired vehicle but also a range of activities and products aligned with that brand.
Mercedes-Benz, for example, is currently the tenth most valuable brand in the world, embodying technological advancement, fine craftsmanship and the highest possible safety standards available. It has positioned itself as an inspirational brand to first-time buyers and a brand with a powerful history and loyalty to those fortunate enough to have been driving this vehicle for years. In addition Mercedes-Benz has developed synergies with a vast number of cultures, such as music, sports and the arts. These assimilations begin to define the Mercedes-Benz lifestyle.
Sportswear and accessories related to premier sporting events sponsored by the brand, such as tennis, golf and F1 McLaren, will be available. A high tech brand gallery could link the different elements in the centre and house images documenting the history of the brand, dynamic technical innovations and even the latest concept and racing cars. This gallery will be multi functional, with the intention of hosting live classical music events as well as art and technology exhibitions. Additional features will include coffee shops, restaurants and a boutique retail outlet. Customers will have a range of educational, interactive games and simulators at their fingertips.
Something to look forward to for all motoring enthusiasts.