Thursday, July 21, 2011

Genuine Schmenuine, It’s All the Same, Or, At Least Your Customers Think So

In our summer focus groups with real customers, we ask people what Genuine parts are and where they can get them. It’s actually pretty amusing. Just for auto, we have a $30-$50 billion dollar industry in the States selling stuff at a premium that pretty much nobody understands.
The Mecca of Genuine is CAT, and you can’t find much on the virtues of Genuine on their website. Most of the auto OEMs have little to nothing about Genuine on their websites, or if they do it is buried 15 clicks deep. Exclude GM from this group. GM recently switched from Mr. Goodwrench to “Certified Service” – based on our focus groups, this was a good move.

Let’s think about this. Imagine another big product category: snack foods. Sales of snack foods in the U.S. hit $64 billion in 2010. If snack foods were like auto parts, you’d go into a grocery store and 70% of the stuff in the aisle would be generic, like “A&P Snack.”Well, companies like Frito-Lay aren’t going to let that happen.

They continuously bombard all forms of media, extolling the virtues of their brands. They put their vending machines in public schools and give the schools kickbacks that pay for books and football jerseys. It’s the American Way. We all know what Fritos and Ruffles mean and why we prefer them.
But, people don’t know what Genuine parts and service mean, so, they don’t prefer them.

Bottom Line: We don’t need Genuine parts vending machines in public schools for oil filters and struts. But, it seems that we really do need to educate our customers on what Genuine – or whatever we call it – really means. Sort of like the Nutrition Facts on the backs of food packages, which help customers make informed choices. We need to help our customers understand what they’re buying.

No comments: