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Coming out of the luker's corner - but this discussion on AoA and Audi and
their attitudes has been very interesting...
Working at a large Asian car company in Los Angeles, specifically in the
interactive/web/internet area, I can tell you that certainly "we" in the
corporate sense do not know what the hell is going on out there on usenet,
the web, mailing lists etc. There are thousands of people chatting about
cars every day on mailing lists all over the world and as far as my company
is concerned- they have no idea these people, these resources, these lists,
these people even exist. Oh sure they have a vague idea about it but they
don't "get it" obviously.
Camp Jeep- dunno if you've ever heard about it but it's an annual family
weekend that Chrysler puts on where Jeep enthusiasts come from all over to
spend the weekend together. Great marketing opportunities and really
solidifies the pride in the marque for those who attend. Great idea, no?
If you've got an enthusiasts market (Jeep) then market towards them. You
couldn't do the same thing for Camry buyers, if you get my drift. Anyone
who's taken marketing 101 knows that it is cheaper to keep your existing
customers than to capture customers from your competition. Yet for all the
MBAs and "experience" that everyone has here- little to none of the
marketing that we do is to retain loyal owners. Most of it is spent on TV
and other mass market advertising that does little to retain customers and
is hard to measure effectively.
These car companies have marketing budgets in the hundreds of millions of
dollars and in some cases billions. To spend a little bit on the hard-core
interactive enthusiasts (which is what we are- we're not AOL or A4
webBBSers) would reap benefits long term that really make it worth the time
and energy. The main problem, as I see it, is that these marketing folks
really don't know the potential or don't understand the varied consumers on
the web. To me, it really doesn't make any sense. I mean a little
corporate support would mean so much to these folks and you would have such
an incredible power in your favor. We are the consumers of the future -
the "early adopters." We're the ones who're ordering goods online,
Amazon.com, etc. We're the ones pushing retailers to move to the web,
create internet catalogs, secure ordering forms, etc. We're the ones going
to Carpoint, Edmunds, Autobytel, etc. We are the prime demographic for
Audi or any of the smaller marques that have pricier cars.
Merely by being on a few mailing lists, I've heard or read about a number
of "complaint sites" on the web where a car customer has had a legitimate
complaint left unheeded by the car company. There's an A4 site, Sean's,
where the owner complained about the holes in the bumper on his website and
that was the push that AoA needed to come through for him after his dealer
let him down.
Those savvy enough put up a website, list them on all the search engines,
and basically get their situation out to anyone who queries for say "Audi"
or "Honda" or "Ford." Personally, I know that if I ever have a problem
with my car that isn't resolved to my satisfaction, this is what I'm going
to do. It may seem as if the power is at Audi/AoA, but that's not the
case. The "power" is us- our voices, our websites, our wallets. We all
decide what people think about Audi. We're the "grassroots" - we're the
one's who know the new medium, it's power and we should use it to "our"
advantage. If we think more globally about this, it's obvious that the
power structure has completely shifted from the company to the consumer
with the advent of the web and email. No longer can they set the rules all
the time. Now that one person has the power to communicate to many via a
mailing list or web site, the consumer has the power. The companies just
don't know that right now - or haven't done anything about it.
But the bottom line is that these big car companies - trust me - they just
don't have a clue or they don't value our demographics. Oh sure there
might be a few people in the know but basically, they're slow to change,
don't know the new technology, the new medium, the new power structure. So
they move when you push real hard (like putting up a complaint website or a
lawsuit.) Is is an incredible shame that these companies don't have the
foresight to work with their customers (software companies are good at
this) to benefit both the company and the consumer.
Me? I like Audi's mainly because of quattro. If the WRX Imprezza was sold
here in the States, I'd consider that too. But as things stand right now,
I'm saving for an A4 because it's the only car of it's kind that does what
I want it to. All of this negative talk about AoA not supporting Dan or
not supporting their customers is exactly the same talk I hear at my car
company-and it doesn't make me comfortable in the thought of buying an Audi.
As long as we stick together- sharing information is sharing power, we'll
stay ahead of the curve.
Sorry for the ramble- your thoughts?
saving up for an A4 or maybe a URq if I can find one...