Need a new car?
Here’s an idea: ask your friends and family to buy you one. If you think this is a ridiculous idea – unless
your friends and family include the very, very rich – you haven’t heard about
the latest craze in car-buying.
Think of it this way:
take the concept of a bridal gift registry where the bride and groom
pick out a china pattern and post it on a store’s online site. Friends and
family can purchase individual pieces - say a dinner plate or a gravy boat - as
a wedding gift. Now apply this gift
registry concept to a car. Specifically,
a new Dodge Dart. Instead of buying a
dinner plate or a gravy boat, friends and family will purchase a steering wheel
or an air bag.
From a marketing standpoint, it’s a unique idea for selling
cars to people who don’t want to – or can’t – pay for them. According to the
Dodge Dart Registry http://www.dodgedartregistry.com/,
getting your spanking new car is simple.
The site reads: “Pick out the features you want in your new Dart and
then invite friends and family to sponsor individual parts of the car.” If you’re very, very lucky, you’ll find
sponsors for the entire vehicle. If not,
you’ll just get other people to pay for part of the car and you’ll have to find
a way to pay for the rest yourself.
According to a quote in Time Business & Money http://business.time.com/ from Oliver
Francois, Chief Marketing Officer for Chrysler, “The registry is designed to
make the process of configuring and buying a new Dart more social than ever, in
a way that has never been done before.”
The concept of asking for money online is also called ‘crowd
funding’ and usually applies to gaining investors for business or charities. It
especially appeals to younger consumers, who are especially savvy when it comes
to networking online, even if it essentially amounts to begging for money.
Setting up a registry for the Dodge Dart is relatively simple.
The first step involves creating your profile on the registry. Then you
customize your hoped-for 2013 Dodge Dart with various amenities, including
custom wheels or dual exhaust. Other options include twelve exterior colors,
fourteen interior color and trim options, three engine types, three types of
transmissions, and various safety options. Then, post links to your registry on
your facebook page, twitter, etc. and wait for the donations to come rolling
in. Or not.
In looking over the registrants on the Dart fundraising
site, one person says he needs a car to make the rounds of job interviews. Another is a fraternity that plans on
donating the car to charity. A young
woman registrant is a college student who needs the car to get to her
waitressing job and eventually to her teaching job when she graduates. Of these
three registrants, the fraternity donating the car to charity has the most
donations at $2,200. The other two have
raised less than $200.
The FAQ section of the registry site contains some important
fine print. The most significant is that 9% of the money raised is deducted for
various fees. The maximum time allotment
for the registry is 90 days. At the end of the registry period, registrants get
a check from Chrysler, minus the 9% fee, after which, they can buy a car – or
not. There’s no requirement that they use the money to buy a Dart, or any car
for that matter, which is something that contributors may or may not
understand. They might think they’re
donating for a car, but the money could end up paying for beer and pizza at a
local college hangout.
So if people don’t have to buy the Dart, how does that help
the company sell more cars? According to
Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/, the intent
of the registry might be more to create buzz, than to improve sales. In that case, it might be one of the more
innovative marketing efforts in recent times. Whether it works to boost
interest – and sales – of the Dodge Dart remains to be seen. If it does result in skyrocketing sales of the
car, plan on seeing other companies follow in their footsteps.