About 18 months ago I bought a new Citroen.
At the time I had an old-ish Fiat Punto and a new-ish Saab 93 convertible. I went to a local Citroen dealership to look at a C1 to replace my Punto. There was nothing wrong with the Punto at all but I was being a snob about how old it was and wanted a new little car.
When I got to the dealership I experienced a very positive service encounter which made me trust the brand immediately. The staff (people P) were polite and knowledgeable about their products. They had the right balance of trying to sell me something but not being over-bearing. The dealership was clean and tidy (physical evidence P) which gave me good feelings that the organisation was efficient and cared about their customer experiences.
I decided pretty quickly that the C1 was not going to meet my core needs which included needing space for Henry, my dog, to fit in the boot. I also decided during the visit that my Saab was not actually cheap enough to keep and so started thinking about keeping the Punto and trading the Saab in for a larger family Citroen.
In the dealership they had a special edition C4 designed by rally driver Sebastian Loeb. It was a very smart looking car (product P) that took my fancy straight away. The product messages I was getting from this car in terms of quality, speed, curb appeal and a sense of affluence, were already exceeding my core needs and giving me this feeling of value through what driving this car could offer me. The price was also appealing as Citroen had an offer on this model.
After going home for a think about the C4 I decided I wanted a test drive. I rang the local dealership to arrange but they couldn’t get me the model I wanted in black- only red. This was an example of ‘place’ failing as the distribution channel I wanted to use was not available. I never found out why this was but it was clear evidence of a lack of process. I therefore went to a different dealership where a shiny new black C4 was waiting for me.
This dealership did have the right processes in place as they arranged the test drive for me and had the car brought in especially. Interestingly this second dealership again had appropriate physical evidence which enhanced my buying experience. Something that did differ however was their people. The sales man I dealt with here clearly wasn’t interested in his work, he walked around the show room in a nonchalant ‘I don’t care’ kind of way and annoyed me a great deal when it took him 20 minutes to find the keys for the car I was eagerly waiting to drive. I did really want this car however so I bought it from him there and then.
In terms of an ongoing relationship with Citroen, they regularly text me with offers on the C1 and this is certainly an effective promotion technique as it always makes me entertain the idea of getting another model to replace the poor Punto as I’d originally intended.
They also send me direct mail which of course ends up in the bin but one day when I am in the market for a new car the brand recognition the mail outs afford me with, coupled with my positive experience to date, will certainly pay Citroen dividends.
I think Citroen could do more to enhance their relationship with me through their promotion techniques. If they offered me a second car discount, persuaded me to test drive the C1, paid my insurance for a year, gave me a great interest rate on some finance, among other things, I think my relationship with Citroen could grow. They could certainly do more to push me up the ladder of loyalty.
In this example, Citroen co-ordinated their marketing mix effectively but there is much they could improve on.