The Chrysler 200 was one of several recently-launched models designed to highlight the rebirth of Chrysler. Its advertisements featured Detroit musician Eminem, and have won several awards. In October 2010, we set some general measures one might use to gauge the 200’s early success based on the then-current results for Sebring (200’s predecessor) vs. key rivals Accord, Sonata, Camry, and Fusion. Now nearly a year later, we’re checking back in.
Compete’s earlier analysis suggested the following success measures for 200:
- Goal: 200 will need more shoppers than Sebring
- Goal: 200 will need to maintain Sebring’s competitive conversion
- Goal: 200 reverse cross-shop levels will need to better Sebring’s
Results vs. Goals
1. Goal: More Shoppers
Result: More shoppers, but not quite to levels of stalwarts
In August 2011, 200 had three times as many shoppers than did Sebring in October 2010 (chart). In October, Sebring’s shopper volume was only about one-tenth the average of key rivals (see table below). In August 2011, 200’s was up to one-third.
Shoppers are the number of unique consumers across identical sets of third-party auto sites (avoids biases associated with differences in OEM sites). “Unique” means no double-counting of shoppers that shopped the same car more than once in month, even if they did so on different sites and on different days, so no “false positives.”
2. Goal: Stable Conversion
Result: Stable Conversion, but potentially at its limits
Conversion is the digital equivalent of a close rate and is the ratio of sales to shoppers. In October 2010, Sebring’s conversion of 21.9% was about the average of key rivals. Typically, conversion declines at launch before recovering, which is why we’re revisiting 200 now vs. immediately after launch.
In August 2011, 200’s conversion was 35.6%–leading the rival set (see table below). 200’s high conversion has helped it produce more sales per shopper than rivals, which is key given its shopper volumes trail the set. High conversion is a success if driven by retail, not fleet, sales and without relying on excessive incentives.
With conversion already leading the set, higher 200 sales will likely have to come from more shoppers. The highest sales among the set in months shown was Camry with 30,185 in August (3X 200’s) on 101k shoppers and 29.8% conversion.
3. Goal: Higher Reverse Cross-Shop
Result: Higher Reverse Cross-Shop, but still modest penetration of rivals
Reverse cross-shop represents the extent to which shoppers of rival vehicles are cross-shopping 200 (or last year Sebring). Reverse cross-shop sets the stage for spillover demand (when advertising by rivals created incremental shoppers, some of which also shop 200). On average, 1.4% of shoppers of rival vehicles also shopped Sebring in October 2010. In August 2011, an average of 2.9% of shoppers of rival vehicles shopped 200. That means that for every 100 incremental shoppers a rival generates, about three also shop 200. That’s a solid gain, but likely not enough to drive significant spillover to 200.
200 has absolutely made progress vs. Sebring, but it is not quite “the real slim shady” (i.e., not competitive with key rivals on all measures). Logical next steps include the following, depending on whether 200 is currently hitting retail sales goals.
- If 200 is not reaching retail sales goals, incremental sales will likely have to come from more shoppers. And those would need to be driven by increased ad spend to create shoppers or at least to spur more opportunities for spillover demand (from reverse cross-shopping).
- If 200 is reaching retail sales goals, explore opportunities to shift driving sales from set-leading conversion to instead more shoppers with mid-set conversion. In general, shopper-driven sales are more cost effective than conversion-driven ones, and Autodata reports August 2011 200 unit incentives of over $3,000.
Lincoln Merrihew is the Senior Vice President of Transportation at Millward Brown Digital. At Millward Brown Digital, Lincoln is responsible for steering the Transportation Team, which encompasses the automotive and travel practices. Before Lincoln joined the Millward Brown Digital team, he worked at TNS Custom leading the Automotive team, and then continued on there to lead business development for 10 different industry verticals. Lincoln's career aspiration is to create game-changing solutions and insights. Connect with Lincoln on LinkedIn.