Around 12 million light-duty pickup trucks are purchased every year and even more SUVs. For a majority of those units, they’re owned by private parties and used for non-commercial purposes. That may be used as a family vehicle, a commuter, or as a weekend towing and hauling workhorse. But in recent years, a trending activity that often includes these capable vehicles is Overlanding.

Although it’s often mistaken for off-roading, Overlanding is an activity that can be participated in with a bone-stock 4×4 powertrain and chassis. At the core, it’s all about the journey, not the destination, and centers around enjoying the outdoors wherever the vehicle takes you.

The question is this: why does it matter to car dealers? It matters because it’s what some of your customers are interested in. And in Overlanding, there are opportunities to both connect with those customers and earn revenue by making their journeys more achievable.

A sense of adventure

In The Great American Truck Survey 2020, Marketing Professor at the University of Michigan Aaron Ahuvia said, “America loves trucks because they connect us to an enduring American cultural truth about the resiliency, hard work, and undaunted determination of Americans to tame frontiers, build big things, and overcome adversity – needs that have come to the fore today. Trucks have earned their iconic status by giving builders and dreamers the flexibility and power to get things done and control our destinies, especially in challenging times.”

It’s this same sense of adventure that has grown the Overlanding culture in America, especially through the pandemic when other trips and activities were restricted. For auto dealers, helping truck and SUV owners discover the wilderness could be a ticket to additional vehicle sales and accessories as well as a culture that promotes loyalty.

Start a club

Overlanding is typically a group activity. Clubs like the Southern California Overland Trail Association (SCOTA) have memberships and monthly meetings, and members often head out on trails together. If your brand has vehicles sought after by overlanders, you can offer your dealership as a venue for club meetings (after hours, of course) as well as car shows.

There’s a nominal investment required, both of time and money, but the rewards are clear once it’s established.

Make additional sales

For dealerships breaking into the world of Overlanding, most of the opportunity will be in accessory sales and installation. Expect that many of the vehicles involved are off warranty and the drivers are DIYers primarily. They’re a customer that has all but abandoned the dealership unless there’s value to them. Where dealers can add that value is with accessories that are geared directly to their needs. That may be a roof-mounted basket or a truck bed tent, rock sliders, or knobby tires.

For overlander associations and club members, offer a discount on accessories or installation services, and even for door-rate repairs, recognizing that their business would otherwise be lost.

Make a few vehicle sales

Over time, the rapport built with a club will result in vehicle sales also. When it inevitably does, have a few Overlanding accessory packages created that can be added to their financing. Explore the option of offering complimentary membership dues if your store is connected to a club.

Where overlanders will typically hold onto their heavily accessorized vehicles for longer than the average owner, their loyalty can and will inspire referral sales for non-offroading customers also.

Like any other type of advertising, the goal is to establish a trusted presence in the community. With so many truck and SUV buyers out there, taking the path less traveled could have its rewards.

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