How TrueCar’s Re-Brand Affects Dealers and Car Buyers – Kerri Wise, VP of Industry Relations and Education

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In this segment, Kerri Wise, TrueCar‘s Vice President of Industry Relations and Education, and Jim discuss TrueCar‘s recent re-brand and how that will ultimately effect the car selling process within their platform. Kerri speaks with enthusiasm about first ever re-brand and indicates the main areas of change consisted of, but not limited to, having a more transparent image, a new tagline, a joyful color scheme, and changes to attract a younger audience. Watch the full interview above to see more from Kerri.

Video Transcript

Jim Fitzpatrick: Hello everyone, I’m Jim Fitzpatrick. Thanks so much for joining me on another edition of CBT News. Today we’re so happy to have with us, Miss Kerri Wise, who’s Vice President of industry relations and education at the company called TrueCar, which I know that you all know that name, so thanks very much for joining us today, Kerri.

Kerri Wise: Thank you so much for having me.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure, and congratulations. I understand that as of today, TrueCar announced a rebrand. Tell us all about that.

Kerri Wise: Yeah, so we’re really excited. This is our first visual identity update since the inception of the company, 15 years ago.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Wow.

Kerri Wise: Our rebrand encompasses not only major marketing changes, but product changes and it’s all focused on not only differentiating TrueCar as a brand, but also improving the experience both for consumers and for dealers.

Jim Fitzpatrick: So let’s dive right in. Let’s discuss your marketing changes. What changes did you make and why?

Kerri Wise: I think the most noticeable thing that you’ll see is our logo. Obviously most people are familiar with the TrueCar logo. We have changed it to be more vibrant and colorful and what we’re trying to do, I think TrueCar has always been known for truth, transparency, validation for the consumer, and what we’re trying to do is insert fun and joy. Because when it comes to buying a car, not only for the consumer, it’s a joyful experience, it’s a major experience, but it’s also fun from a dealership standpoint to be in the car business selling cars. And so you’ll see a much more colorful, vibrant logo. We also changed our tagline. Now our tagline is Buy Smart, Drive Happier. Once again, infusing not only the importance of transparency and validation, but also the fun of buying a car. Car shopping should be easy and convenient and fun. And then lastly, we’re changing our advertising as well.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, there’s no question. And those of us in the auto industry want it to be that way, right? I mean, buying a car is usually the culmination of one’s goal for that year or that month or what have you. And, as far as dealers are concerned, we want it to be a fun experience for the consumer.

Kerri Wise: Absolutely. I think the excitement, as you mentioned of buying a car, it’s the second largest purchase that you’ll make and I think where there’s always room for improvement is that experience. That experience at the dealership and I think we think that should be fun as well. One of the things we’re also doing you’ll see, are some new ads that will come out. Many people are familiar with our TrueCar ads in the past and you see them all over television and radio and you’re going to see some new ads that represent different types of consumers that we’re trying to attract.

Kerri Wise: All of this you’ll see as more focused on attracting a broader audience. And so for us, two audiences that we think are very important are millennials who are buying more cars than ever, and also women, who I know I’ve heard you talk on several of your shows about, who influenced 82% of the car buying decisions.

Jim Fitzpatrick: No question about it. And we need more women in the auto industry to really show us how this industry’s done right.

Kerri Wise: Absolutely, I mean I think it’s one of the segments in the automotive industry that to me, has one of the greatest opportunities. As women, not only do we buy a lot of cars, but we’re influencing other people that are buying cars as well. So we think that’s an important segment and when you look at our logo, when you look at our tagline and when you look at our advertising, you’re going to see us go after those two segments in a greater way while still maintaining our existing customer base.

Jim Fitzpatrick: So millennials are in fact buying cars, aren’t they?

Kerri Wise: Well, absolutely, absolutely. I think, we all remember, and I’ve been in the industry for 20 something years, and I think there was a time where millennials were being bashed. We made fun of them for playing video games and not necessarily, you know, there’s a stereotype that they weren’t as driven as other generations. I say that is completely false.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I agree.

Kerri Wise: As a Gen X, or who’s interacted with millennials, I think I’m inspired by them. And when it comes to car buying, they are buying more cars than ever. And the reality is they are going to be the largest segment sooner or later when it comes to actual new vehicle and used vehicle sales.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. So, talk to us about how the rebranding will impact dealers.

Kerri Wise: So, the second aspect of the rebrand, are product changes, are actual consumer experience changes of which are going to have a big impact on dealers. So, we are changing our experience and one of the major changes that we’re making is that we want to add more flexibility and convenience for the consumer. So if you think about TrueCar in the past, when a consumer comes to shop on our site and is introduced to dealers, they were automatically sent to three dealers. They did not have a choice. It was automatic. And the goal was to give them comparison, price comparison.

Kerri Wise: But the reality is that not every consumer wants to interact with three dealers. There’s a consumer that might find one dealer that meets their needs and that’s great. There’s another consumer that wants to interact with five dealers. And so we want to give them that flexibility. And so our new experience will give consumers choice on how many dealers they want to interact with. And when we tested this experience, what we found is, a third of consumers actually only chose to interact with one dealer.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Interesting.

Kerri Wise: And then there’s other consumers that chose to interact with two or more. And so we find by giving them that flexibility, the dealership when they receive a lead from TrueCar, is going to be interacting with the consumer that chose them. They weren’t forced to deal with them, they chose that dealership, which is going to help when it comes to actually connecting with that consumer. And we’re finding that the close rates are actually higher as well.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Wow, that’s fantastic.

Kerri Wise: Absolutely. We’ve also made some other changes from a product standpoint that impact dealers. Our used vehicle experience, so what most people don’t know they think of TrueCar as a new car website, but about a third of our sales that are generated through TrueCar are actually people who are buying used cars.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Interesting. Yeah, that’s interesting.

Kerri Wise: And we know that particularly with millennials especially, that that’s where we want to go. And so we actually enhanced our use car experience grants to offer better ratings, to better match consumers with the right vehicles and trade is the other area. So, we launched TrueCar Trade over a year ago. We have now integrated TrueCar Trade, we’re actually in the first stages of integrating that into the TrueCar.com experience. So what that means is, when you’re coming on truecar.com, not only can you get an upfront price on the vehicle you’re shopping for, but you can also in the same experience, get a upfront trade value on your existing vehicle.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Nice.

Kerri Wise: So we’re trying to really just connect those dots across new cars, used cars, and the trade experience.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s fantastic. So, what’s next for TrueCar? I mean, it sounds like you’ve figured it all out with these elements, but what’s next?

Kerri Wise: Well, we’re not done at all. I don’t pretend to say that we are there. We have not arrived, there’s so much more work to do and we’ll continue to innovate. I think we’re excited about with this rebrand with the consumer experience changes, is that we’re moving forward and making the experience better for consumers and dealers. But there’s more work to do. We have new products that we’re rolling out, sponsored listings that allows you to showcase through used cars, reaches our retargeting product. But one I’m really, really excited about that we’ll be discussing at NADA, is what we’re going to call Retail Solutions, which is deal configuration. It’s going to take that trade product that we have, the TrueCar Trade, our dealer science, which is our digital retailing tool that offers payments, and allow a dealer to offer a complete deal to a consumer through our experience.

Kerri Wise: And so, we’ll be testing that soon and rolling that out nationwide later on in the year, but we’re really excited about not only offering consumers an upfront price and upfront trade, but what about the entire deal in connecting those dots?

Jim Fitzpatrick: For sure. And as we move down the tracks of digital retailing, these elements are going to become even more important, right?

Kerri Wise: Absolutely. TrueCar was founded on offering a consumer and upfront price on a new car or used car, but we all know that that’s not what it takes to buy a car, there’s so much more that’s a part of the entire deal. And so I think with Retail Solutions, as we integrate the trade, as we integrate the payment that’s going to be critical in helping consumers buy a car, the whole entire deal, but also from a dealership standpoint, that also offers a lot of efficiency into our process and also helps the dealer stand out.

Kerri Wise: You know, if a dealer is a part of this Retail Solutions ,a part of trade, we’re going to make sure that that dealer is branded on our site so that they can showcase themselves, showcase the fact that a consumer can do everything with that particular dealer. So we’re really excited about differentiation beyond just price and really focusing on the entire deal.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s great. It sounds like you’re really making it very dealer focused too, to help dealers sell cars.

Kerri Wise: Absolutely. I mean, when you think about it, TrueCar has a storied past when it comes to dealers, particularly when I’ve been here over the last five years, and we’ve been very focused on making TrueCar a very balanced marketplace for both consumers and dealers. That’s critical.

Jim Fitzpatrick: We spoke to one dealer about TrueCar and he said, “Years ago I was their worst enemy, and today I hope to be their best friend. I really can’t live without them in my dealership. They’ve done a tremendous amount for our bottom line and to help us sell more cars in the marketplace.” I thought that was interesting, but I think that dealer is speaking on behalf of many dealers that feel that way about their TrueCar brand.

Kerri Wise: Well absolutely. And we hope, and I love when I hear a compliment like that, and what we hope through this rebrand is that we go even further with that. That we attract even more shoppers, we reach them where they’re shopping and that we drive more sales. A million sales were occurred through TrueCar in 2018, and so-

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s a very substantial part of the market.

Kerri Wise: Right. We hope to increase that number and drive more sales so dealers aren’t spending time on leads and shoppers that aren’t necessarily in the market.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, for sure. Where can dealers find out more about the new TrueCar?

Kerri Wise: The new TrueCar, So we launched a new dealer website today as well. TrueCar.com/Dealer. You can find out about our products. You can also read articles and thought leadership. So we have a new dealer blog that also launched on TrueCar.com/Dealer. And then of course we’re going to be at NADA talking about not only this rebrand, but all of our new products and of course Retail Solutions that is coming. We’re at booth 4715C. So, 4715C.

Jim Fitzpatrick: For dealers that are listening to this discussion today with Kerri, do yourself a favor and spend some time at the TrueCar booth. I think you’ll be amazed as they’re doing some really cool things for dealers to help them sell cars in 2020 and beyond. I’d love to hear all the changes that they’re making. It sounds to me like not only is it dealer focused, but it’s customer focused and as everybody knows in the industry, that’s what it’s all about today, the customer is in the driver’s seat and we’re all trying to hold on, but I think TrueCar makes it a lot easier for dealers to do that, and at the same time make some money and that’s what it’s all about. So, everybody can be happy.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Kerri Wise, vice president of industry relations and education at TrueCar. I want to thank you so much for joining us here on CBT news. This has been a great discussion about your new rebranding. Congratulations to you.

Kerri Wise: Thank you so much, and we’ll see you at NADA.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Thank you.

Speaker 1: CBT Automotive Network. The number one most watched network in retail automotive. This has been a JBF Business Media production.

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