Bravery Rewarded – How One Retailer Broke Free of its Category Norms

Exploring new formats in retail is not exactly a revolutionary strategy but when it comes to breaking free of category norms, car dealer Rockar should be commended.

Usually located on out-of-town lots, traditional car dealerships are often overlooked and unloved by any but the most-determined of car buyers. In a bid to target a younger and more female customer, Rockar instead used location and a service-driven offer when it opened a 2,000sq ft boutique in Kent shopping centre Bluewater last autumn to sell brand-new Hyundai cars (under the same teams as other dealerships).

Working with brand and retail design agency Dalziel + Pow, Rockar created an in-store experience around car buying, integrating technology and underpinned by retail staff who were ‘auditioned’ rather than interviewed. David Dalziel, group creative director of D+P says the brief was to “demystify the usually intimidating car buying process for younger customers and women”.

The unusual (for a car dealership) shopping centre location, combined with the appeal of something new,  has provided Rockar some solid results – outlined at the recent Retail Week Live event. Founder Simon Dixon says:

  • Between October and March the store has been visited 55,000 times versus the average 250 visits received by traditional car dealerships in that same period.
  • The store is on track to receive more visits than the entire UK network of Hyundai showrooms combined.
  • 58% of store visits are by women compared to the very low number of women who visit traditional dealerships.
  • 62% of sales are to women against the Hyundai national average of 39%.
  • 60% of sales are to customers who would usually purchase second-hand vehicles.
  • The typical customer is aged 37 versus 56 for the Hyundai national average – a significant benefit as it means the car manufacturer is capturing customers two decades earlier than it usually does.

One final stat – some 40% of final sales are made on the web versus 60% in store, indicating that a large number of customers are content with the in-store service they received and confident enough to make a high value car purchase when at home.

This a big departure for a big-ticket category and a sign that being brave and breaking away from the norm can yield impressive results.


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