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Innovation and leadership missing from showroom development says brand expert

Automotive showrooms should "raise their game" and catch up with their equivalent brand peers on Europe’s high streets.

According to retail expert Karl McKeever, when speaking at Urban Science’s Dealerships of the Future event the industry must urgently rebalance its massive corporate marketing spend.

This should be geared away from its historic preference for ‘above the line’ advertising to increase priority on creating better, more engaging showroom experiences at local dealership level, as this is where customers experience brands in reality.

In his key note presentation to delegates he spoke on how some of the world’s best brands (Apple, T Mobile and Nespresso) deliver best in class brand experiences within their retail environments, and crucially how the motor industry can learn from these examples.

McKeever, brand director at UK visual merchandising consultancy Visual Thinking, said: “There is a huge amount of work to be done to bring each automotive brand’s showroom estate up to date and to a consistent standard.

“Innovation and leadership is what’s missing and required from the brands, and importantly, new investment and delivery in the market place – especially if showrooms are to retain their place as the key point of sale for motor brands in an increasingly ‘online orientated’ world.

“This will become essential if online vehicle sales become a reality, and take off.

"And as this is likely at some point, despite the possible resistance from what would be a fundamental change to the historic dealership market supply model.

"Consumers are more savvy and demanding than ever before, and are increasingly aware of how great brands communicate with them at the retail level.

"The emotions associated with buying a car should be significantly more exciting than buying a coffee machine, sadly in most cases, I believe it is currently not.”

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