Jeep making comeback in toughest year
If hindsight is 20/20, Jeep Australia would surely have never chosen 2020 as the year to begin a concerted resurgence. Nevertheless, in the face of the worst year for the car industry in decades, it’s bouncing back.
Jeep’s fall from grace last decade sees it with the arduous task ahead of regaining trust, proving its new products are worthy of more buyers and keeping dealers happy.
According to the local arm’s new boss Kevin Flynn, the process is well underway, and while in its early stages, the brand is already shifting up a gear in its strategy to convert new customers and bring back old ones.
“Despite the impact of COVID we’re not taking our foot off the gas,” Flynn told Practical Motoring.
Indeed, Jeep Australia’s sales might be down this year over 2019, but it comes as no surprise given the industry as a whole has been slaughtered from social distancing measures, business shutdowns, and stay home orders the norm. The glimmer of light for the American off-road and SUV brand is that its sales have been less hit than most other manufacturers in 2020, and it sees a positive trendline.
The strategy for Jeep is to simplify its offerings, packing more equipment into each model and showing that the important after-sales ownership experience is better than ever before. The recent mainstream Compass SUV is a good example of this turnaround.
“It’s important how we are now presenting ourselves across a section people in Australia,” continues Flynn. “Our social media program has not always been positive and we’re measuring sentiment, and it’s up. Our digital comms was always going to flesh out frustration in the market, and we’ve been doing that, but now we’re seeing a much more positive turn around.”
“Now, the positive outstrips negative, and this is our opportunity to demonstrate to owners and customers that we’re here and what we’ve got is a very good thing.”
“The key to rebuilding trust and getting into consideration is demonstrating our attitude. We’re there for you, we’ve now got lifetime roadside assistance on Jeep products. We want to demonstrate we do care and what’s been interesting is the level of engagement where we enjoyed a good June and a good July. It’s inspiring us to push forward.”
No longer the time to swell on negativity
Showing that the brand is moving into more positive territory is that Jeep will begin shooting new commercials and ads that are different from its early-mid 2020 campaign. Asked if Jeep was transitioning from TVCs that have been apologetic to customers who had previously bought a Jeep and felt they were not looked after correctly, Flynn said the brand was very much moving on.
“We’re at the end of apologetic. Phase. It’s not that attitude change but the period we’re in is moving on and the pudding is in the eating.
“We’re about to start shooting new tv ads and with new Aussie talent. It will be product-focused and reinforced the things we’ve done.
“First we went on digital and social hard [explain we did some things not right before], then a bit of press with full or half-page ads with our intent [on how we would change] that I signed off. We bolstered the whole team internally because of the amount of new engagements from customers. That’s ongoing and will remain live. We have more people in that team to handle responses in social media.”
“We’re now in the process of replacing those TVC ads and telling a new story.”
The immediate future of Jeep is led by the all-new Gladiator ute and the new Jeep Compass, a car that Flynn is particularly familiar with given he introduced the model to India and to success. Soon enough, we’ll also see the next-gen Grand Cherokee, which Jeep will undoubtedly hope is the old hit it once enjoyed.
“Grand Cherokee is almost synonymous in Australia,” says Flynn. “The key is to make sure we bring new models in as they get launched and make sure we do them justice.”