Chrysler Group Grand Van Plan


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Chrysler Group recently announced that within a few years it will cull its current two-minivan-lineup to one model.  The Dodge Grand Caravan survives; the Chrysler Town & Country departs to be replaced by a new cross-over.  Ideally Grand Caravan will then capture all potential Grand Caravan buyers as well as would-be Town & Country buyers (and the new Chrysler brand crossover will capture an all new pool of customers).

To assess the in-market shopper potential for the net across the two models, Compete identified the shopper volume for each, then the unique volume across both (i.e., avoiding double-counting consumers that shopped both) benchmarked against rivals.

This analysis leverages Compete’s proprietary in-market automotive shopper metrics, which are based on unique consumers (i.e., no double-counting of consumers doing the same activity more than once in the same month) and our patented normalization technology.  Shopping counts are based on lower funnel activity across any one or more 40+ third-party auto sites, though Compete tracks behaviors across the internet.

Grand Caravan in the Driver’s Seat?

Over the past two years, the number of in-market Grand Caravan and Town & Country shoppers has been notably similar: each averaged about 27,000 shoppers.  The past three months show the biggest sustained difference with Grand Caravan having 8,300 more shoppers (a 33% advantage).  That gain may reflect a pre-cursor shift in focus toward Grand Caravan.

Limited Sharing a Mixed Blessing

But the bigger question around a one-minivan strategy is how many unique consumers does Chrysler Group have across both models?   Compete revealed that by isolating three distinct pools of shoppers: those that shopped one model and not the other, and those that shopped both.   On average across the period 11% of the total shopped both models (center band in chart).

Net Unique Shoppers Across Grand Caravan and Town & Country

The good news is that less overlap means more total unique shoppers—in August near a period high of 58,800 shoppers.  The challenge is that the low overlap suggests two fairly distinct pools of shoppers, which may make it hard to create Grand Caravan buyers from Town & Country shoppers.  Chrysler Group’s shared showroom strategy may help convert T&C shoppers into Grand Caravan buyers—as long as they actually reach the showroom.

GCTC at the Forefront

Compete next benchmarked the net unique Grand Caravan / Town & Country (GCTC) shopper volumes against Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna shopper volumes.  The trends documents the impact of recent Odyssey launch (new for the 2012 model year, launching mid-2011 CY) and the approach of the end of cycle of the current Sienna.  But is also shows CGTC well ahead—at least over the past three months.

GCTC, Sienna, and Odyssey In-Market Shopper VolumesBut the story does not end there: the sales each automaker yields from the shoppers is very different.  CGTC leads on sales with the highest shopper volume coupled with the highest conversion (a measure of sales yield from shoppers).  And while Odyssey and Sienna have similar shopper volumes, Odyssey’s higher conversion means far more sales.  Note: Conversion here is based on total sales (retail + fleet).

Sales Yield of GCTC, Sienna and OdysseyBuilding on Success

Shopper volumes document a recent success, including relative to Odyssey and Sienna.  The long-term challenge may be converting all of the Town & Country shoppers into Grand Caravan buyers.

Logical next steps for intelligence insights include:

  • Identify non-automotive behavioral differences between GC and T&C which Chrysler Group could leverage to steer T&C shoppers (and shoppers of Sienna and Odyssey) toward Grand Caravan
  • Benchmark Chrysler Group minivan conversion against Sienna and Odyssey: refine using retail sales only and recognizing the impact of incentives
  • For context, expose how many T&C shoppers already consider crossovers, and how that compares to other shoppers of other minivans
  • Evaluate other automakers’ earlier efforts to convert minivan shoppers into cross-over shoppers
  • ______

About Lincoln Merrihew:
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.

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  1. Hannah

    I served a stint at a Chrysler dealership, converting internet leads. The Grand Caravan and the T&C are largely identical vehicles (completely identical under the hood). To be honest, it didn’t much matter if a customer came in interested in one or the other. Once their preferences regarding the extra features they wanted in their van (DVD, nav, leather) were discerned by a salesperson, most customers could be as easily sold on either van. This is of course, given that they could afford the hefty price tag of the feature laden T&C.

    What surprises me the most about Chrysler’s decision to keep the Grand Caravan name is that I assume the current T&C will simply become the highest trim level of the new Grand Caravans. So why not keep the Town & Country name – a name that loyal Chrysler customers already associate with more “luxury?” Lower T&C’s base price and really make customers think they’re getting a good deal on what used to be the better van.

    But, all in all, the exclusion of the T&C name in the Chrysler lineup shouldn’t matter much to sales. The Caravan will go the way of the highly customizable Dart. One car, tons of possibilities. The GC will simply have more optional features, and today’s T&C will still be available to consumers who want it…it’ll just be labeled a Dodge.