Theodore Tsikolis

Theodore Tsikolis

Design & Branding Strategy MA
2011

Shifting the Public Perception of Used Car Dealerships

Building trust through multi-channel experience design and branding strategy

Design, apart from its obvious creative characteristics, is now acknowledged as a problem solving process. During research on the recent meta-recession consumer behaviour and, in particular its effect on the automotive industry used car market, two key issues emerged as clearly identifiable problems: 1. According to research into 700 consumers by Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster, only 18 percent of consumers trust what they read, see or hear in the media, with only 11% trusting the experts. 2. As reported by Consumer Direct, there are concerns that consumer satisfaction and trust in this market remains low. Consumer Direct continues to receive a flow of complaints from consumers, setting a perception that certain players in the market are seen as untrustworthy. Identifying this problem led to defining the aim for the project: 'To develop a design and branding strategy for used car dealers to build trust and reliability.' The methodology being used requires critical research methods to identifiy opportunities for design by finding ways to enhance the experience of customers through multi-channel experience design and a consistent branding strategy. In a consumerís mind the past experience of a brand is significantly linked to the perception of this brand. For consumers the value of each brand is conveyed through positive product experience and lasting brand loyalty. In the suffering market of used car dealerships, trust is the missing ingredient to build customer loyalty. Ted Minnini sees trust as a composite of four main components: 1. Connectivity, 2. Innovation and Service, 3. Fair price and 4. Transparency, Honesty and Authenticity. If the experience of the buyers is enhanced and an honest and authentic relationship is developed between customers and brands, brand loyalty and advocacy is achieved. According to the law of Fellowship the whole market could take advantage of the positive publicity between consumers, that will end up shifting to a positive perception of the used car dealership.