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The Media's Negative Effect on the Car Industry

I was thumbing through my Sunday morning Chicago Tribune (yes, I still get the paper - don't know why as I read it online before ever cracking open the usually-soggy paper) and came across an article about the uptick in automotive sales. It mentioned that a rebound was occurring. I found the article refreshing. No, not because I was enlightened with new information, but that there was ANY positive news about car sales. Media rarely reports any positive messages regarding our industry. We've been submerged in the doom and gloom scenario by the media outlets for months and months.

I am trying to decide (with your help) how much the media's negative coverage of our industry's shortcomings are affecting overall sales. If the entire sales volume decline equals 100%, how much of a percentage would you attribute to the media overwhelming the American public with negativity? 30%? 50%?

This bad publicity just makes consumers hold onto their cars a little longer. They are told to push forward another 6 months with their current vehicle, get it fixed, or step down to a pre-owned opposed to a new. Newscast after nightly newscast, the public hears negativity that they, sadly, believe empowers them to negotiate far beyond the boundaries of realism.

Obviously, the reason for this negativity is that it sells newspapers. Let's face it, the newspaper industry is the only one taking a bigger hit than home and auto sales. Still, as a "member" of the automotive industry, I would just like to hear more about the "uptick" in retail car sales opposed to the CONSTANT CONSTERNATION being heaped upon potential car buyers.

Allow me to also mention that I understand the media is in no way responsible for what we got ourselves into. I must say that automakers and, in some cases, dealers have sat "high on the hog" for quite a while and we were our own undoing. We know what the OEMs mishandled and we know that dealers lost the focus of customer service/retention and lost the desire/ability/need to professionally train their staff when times were good. Now, in a challenging time, dealers have had to rekindle the magic that it often takes to be profitable in automotive retail.

No matter the reason for the initial downturn, the media has played a significant role in how long it has lasted. So I ask again...
What do you think the percentage is?
How much is the media responsible for our ongoing struggles?
Put a number on it.

Views: 37

Tags: ADM, DealerKnows, Joe, Webb, auto, automotive, car, digital, downturn, in, More…marketing, media, negativity, sales, the, uptick

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Comment by Jessica (National Transport LLC) on July 27, 2009 at 10:44am
My company transports vehicles for consumers and dealerships nationwide. This year alone our dealership clients have dramatically decreased. We have a good relationship with every single one and according to what they are explaining to us, I would say at least 6 out of 10 are feeling the challenge of selling. Our business seems to be staying afloat on this sea of sinking ships, but we have to take it day by day. This time last year our business was strong and our dealers were moving truckloads. I think the media is hurting a lot of the automotive sales by scaring people....same with Real Estate. It is creating a certain attitude that the consumers are in complete control of how they want to spend their money. Granted, they have all rights to spend their money how they want to and get the best deal for their dollar, but maybe they need to remember that there are hardworking Americans just trying to put food on their table, too. At this point it's not about the dealers/salesman keeping their brand-new Maserati's, it's just trying to keep their job.

Joe, I completely agree with your last paragraph. Especially noted that "dealers lost focus of customer service/retention and lost the desire/ability/need to professionally train their staff when times were good." That is absolutely true and I think that other businesses (along with automotive) that originally made America the thriving country that it once was, have fallen into the rhythm that you above mentioned. We need to earn the trust of the consumers and give them faith in the automotive industry once again.
Comment by Ray McGowan on July 21, 2009 at 10:55am
I can remember talking to a manager recently and he conveyed that although customer traffic was increasing, their price and negotiation strategies had changed. Due to all the "negative" news coverage the buying public believes the dealers are in a weaker position to sell product. Yes, there are some ridiculous numbers being thrown out there and most of the people I speak with daily are all of the same opinion. The news is directly effecting how consumers look at our business model. It's either take what I'm offering you, or the hell with you. I would say the business has been affected by 25 to 35%.
Comment by VJ on July 17, 2009 at 2:15pm
It actually just came out a study that Americans now keep their cars more than 4 years (on an average) what was a couple of years ago less than 3 years. So my number is around 30% of influence in consumers buying behavior. And 2nd you are right on the negative reports throughout the media. These "messages and news" are getting picked up by the consumers, which then contact the Internet Depts. with crazy figures, expectations and the attitude "You guys need to sell, and I want to save even more - when you don't sell your competition will do. BMW has reported 23% less sales tha last year. So what's up now?"
Just had exact this scenario 24 hours ago happening with one of my Internet Managers and one of his prospects.

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