General Motors knew from its experience shuttering Oldsmobile in 2004 that it would lose loyal customers when it closed its Hummer, Pontiac, and Saturn brands as part of its bankruptcy deal with the government in 2009. Thus, the automaker took steps to minimize such “conquests”, or customers switching car brands, from happening.
Last March, GM offered a $1,000 incentive to Hummer, Pontiac, and Saturn owners when purchasing a new GM vehicle. Later, the incentive was extended to all current GM vehicle owners in January and February of this year. GM, knowing the importance of vehicle maintenance and service, moved to connect it customers to alternative brands and dealerships such as Chevrolet to meet their vehicle needs. It has also offered one-year free-maintenance for the brands as well as special promotions and deals including opportunities to test-drive new GM vehicles. Dealerships have also gotten into the act, offering additional discounts and services such as free oil changes.
“The size of owner base is very important to us,” stated Julie Heisel, GM’s director of customer lifecycle management. “And we want to do everything possible to retain these owners.”
The stakes are high, with three million Hummer, Pontiac, and Saturn vehicles still in motion on U.S. roads alone. When GM discontinued the brands, it watched as a majority of owners switched to automakers like Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. According to the Detroit News, GM kept, in 2010, 39 percent of Hummer owners in the fold; 36 percent from Pontiac; and 26 percent from Saturn. These figures are a far cry from the industry average of 48 percent or even Chevy’s 55 percent retention rate. Saturn owners and dealerships, especially, are inclined to slip-slide away to the competition due to the brand’s unique “counterculture” image, a sharp contrast to GM’s mainstream Chevrolet brand.
Ford has also struggled to retain customers from driving off after closing its Mercury brand, which was discontinued last year. The Ford folks have had a slightly easier time due to the low price difference between Ford and Mercury vehicles and the similarity between them, as Mercury cars were little more than Ford re-badges. The automaker’s retention rate of Mercury owners is 46 percent, slightly below industry average.
Do you own a Hummer, Mercury, Pontiac or Saturn vehicle? What incentives and services, if any, has either General Motors or Ford offered that keeps you interested in the brands? Let us know in the comments below.
Source: Detroit News