Automotive Retailing Takes to Salsa, Tommy Bahamas and Tacos
By Rupa Ranganathan, Ethnic Strategist, Strategic Research Institute
At a time when automotive manufacturers are all jumping onto the bandwagon of “employee discounts,” automotive dealers are also vying with each other to make their outlets unique and the preferred choice.
The New York Times of July 27, 2005 highlights the efforts of “Z” Frank Chevrolet, named after Zollie Frank, who founded the Chicago dealership in 1936.
A year and a half ago, the current owner of the dealership and son of the founder, Chuck Frank, had difficult decisions to make. The dealership had been losing money (nearly every month for a year leading up to June 2004).
To “rescue his family’s legacy” as the Times piece written by Alexei Barrionuevo put it, Mr. Frank cut costs by firing one-third of the dealership’s employees and refocused his marketing by targeting the Hispanic population that was growing up around the dealership.
Customers who walk into “Z” Frank Chevrolet today may find themselves greeted by Spanish-speaking sales staff wearing Tommy Bahama shirts with salsa music as a backdrop. Kids and others waiting in the showroom can watch Telemundo. Once a week, customers are treated to free tacos from a local Taco salesman.
Between 1990 and 2000, the Hispanic population accounted for 67 percent of the Chicago market’s population growth. And between 2000 and 2012, “Hispanics are projected to account for 100% of the growth in Chicago,” according to a market profile published by Marketing y Medios in December 2004.
Moderator’s Comment: Do “Z” Frank Chevrolet’s efforts to create an atmosphere within its dealership that speaks to Latinos give it an advantage in
attracting these consumers versus other dealerships sticking with a broader market approach?
– Rupa Ranganathan – Moderator