Snapshot: Chevy's King of Prussia Marketing Mishegos
King of Prussia Mall, outside Philly. At the "Chevy Court," most people clock the static displays, follow Dionne Warwick's advice and walk on by. The Chevy Store– easily mistaken for a NASCAR shop– contains a last gen Vue and Silverado, a Cobalt SS and a Z06. Shoppers can buy car models, t-shirts, hats and other bow tie-branded chazerai. The full time assistant's AWOL. I ask the temp if the truck on display is a GMT-800 or -900. He shrugs his shoulders; he's a "Ford guy." I take an online survey. Afterwards, I win a Chevy key ring via a free scratch card. Apparently, 200 people per day wander into the store. I ask Mr. Ford if they generate any vehicle sales. One customer was set to buy a 'Vette, saw the Z06 and decided to upgrade. A lady ogles a pickup truck. She's driving a Honda Odyssey. Her teenage son is due to inherit his father's Civic. Dad's next vehicle? "Probably another Honda." I can only imagine what this Chevy store costs, plus the public display area, plus the signage.
Another mostly wasted opportunity. Chevy must have figured out that a lot of people are as reluctant to go into a dealership as stepping on a bear trap. But apparently, Chevy's marketing people, like Mr. Ford Guy, don't give a damn about follow-through. Or they've been keeping up with the GM Death Watch series. Hope at least the Chevy Court is located closer to Sears and Penney than to Nordstrom and Neiman-Marcus. But there's another angle here. At least Pennsylvania permits such promotional setups. In Oklahoma the turf-protecting auto dealers have got laws and their wholly-owned "regulatory" agency to actually outlaws things like the Chevy Court. Our local mall usually has on display a car or two put there by some dealership. (Back in '92 there was a Sable I thought so pretty I wound up buying it.) But potential customers can only window shop (and that only if the windows haven't been tinted dark as a Mafiamobile's.) It's self-defeating protectionism.
The Mall of America in Minnesota used to have Great Cars, Great Trucks, a Chrysler showroom. It was the same model as GM's, but Chrysler actually took the time to train employees to answer questions about the cars. Sadly I guess it still didn't help Chrysler out, because few people have the attention span long enough to leave the mall and find a dealer with intent on buying the same car they saw. The website still shows my sister as the last employee of the month before it closed. BMW's method of putting Mini dealers inside shopping malls was a nice touch to reach out to their audience, but that doesn't seem to win many people either as scheduling test drives usually meant a week of waiting. My mom wanted a Mini, but couldn't be bothered to wait, so she went to a Nissan dealer across the mall and bought a 350Z convertible. Of course I was happy.
I live in Philly, about 20 mins. from this place. For those who don't know, King of Prussia mall is an upscale mall with 2 sections divided by an outside cannopy walk. The 2nd part of the mall has the the more upscale shops ($400 jeans, etc). Valet parking is available. I go there for the iMax theatre and the resturaunts, not the $400 jeans. Because of the "prestige" in the mall I always found it kinda funny that GM's were placed in the mall next to Diesel, Bose & Louis Vuitton shops. They have them in the larger "knuckles" of the mall strip near the mall entrances & in front of some department stores. I will confirm the Chevy Court never seems to have a rep in sight when I've been there..
People used to go to malls to browse and shop, the browsing part made it appealing to display vehicles in malls. Lots of "walk by" traffic, lots of eyeballs. The reality is that most people are "pressed for time" and now go to malls for a very specific reason, with a very specific time frame, they literally don't see or pay attention to anything else than what they are looking for on that particular visit. Unfortunately most people are not looking for vehicles in a mall, they had to wrestle a few hundreds just to park before going in.