Steve Gray, CGUK marketing director, says the latest version of the off-roader – on sale next month – will give the group an opportunity to increase conquest sales and improve repeat purchase rates.
“At present, we have about a 35% repurchase rate in the UK. It’s important that we sell not only to existing customers but also to the people who have defected from us in the past and new people,” he says.
The new model has been given a sleeker profile which the carmaker hopes will attract slightly younger buyers. Customers of the current Grand Cherokee are typically aged 55-plus but Gray expects the new car to reduce this to an average age of 43.
Sales this year are expected to reach 2,300 units, increasing to 4,500 units for the full year in 2005. The turbodiesel, which uses Mercedes-Benz’s 3.0-litre CRD powerplant from the new M-class, will account for 85% of those sales. The previous Grand Cherokee averaged 4,000 sales annually, 62% of which were turbodiesels.
Gray has a £3m budget for the new model’s launch campaign and plans to use a broad range of promotions, centred on a five-week TV advertising campaign started on June 5, supported by interactive TV, web-based advertising, print media and events such as country shows and the Canary Wharf Motorexpo in London.
“This is a very serious launch for us, probably the biggest we’ve have had since the 1992 car,” says Gray. Dealers will receive 4.7-litre and 5.7-litre petrol Grand Cherokees this month, while the turbodiesel will follow a ready for the launch weekend of June 4-5. By that point, about 300 sales and aftersales staff from its 88-strong UK franchise network will have attended a dealer launch in Italy for product training.
In September, a series of half-day events will be held at off-road venues around the country, to which dealers will invite existing and prospective customers to learn about the new Grand Cherokee’s off-road capabilities.