The Trade-In Marketplace will soon have a new name, and with that, an entirely new experience for consumers and toolset for dealers.
The program is being converted into “Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offer” during the fourth quarter, Cox Automotive Media Group leadership told a gathering of media on Thursday at its Atlanta headquarters, and the transition is expected to be completed by the end of December.
This follows extensive testing on both the KBB and Autotrader websites, which has uncovered has provided a great deal of insight.
Scott Ehlers, the group’s vice president of product, said that “we know now how to best position this” for both dealers and consumers, alike.
“We do a lot of research. We’ve done more research in the last year and testing in market than we ever have before,” Ehlers said. “So, the product that will actually come to bear in the market will be better tested and actually better positioned, we believe.”
One point of research: the new name, itself, paints a better picture of what the tool actually does: “Get to the instant cash offer. Let’s call it what it is,” Ehlers said. “Better alignment, less questions.”
Cox Automotive Media Group president Jared Rowe followed up, emphasizing how the aim is to push “high-quality” traffic to dealerships, which the company believes should be the “center of the disposal process.”
“When one of your sister companies is one of the largest remarketers in the world, it really is useful and you think about doing these sorts of things,” Rowe said. “Because what it does is, it positions us to help our clients in a way that we don’t think others are positioned, because this ultimately about driving high-quality showroom traffic into our retailers.”
That traffic could come in a couple of different forms, he explained.
First, he said, is the customer who wants to trade-in their vehicle and buy another car. There’s also the consumer who might not need another car, but simply needs to get rid of his or her existing ride — that, in and of itself, is a point of “access to inventory” for dealers, who perhaps are already scouring Craigslist or local newspapers for consumers trying to sell their car.
“And the second thing is, while I may not think I want to buy another vehicle, it’s at least an at-bat,” Rowe said, with the nicely timed baseball analogy.
“You’ve got somebody who’s showing up that you have an opportunity to build a relationship with in some way shape or form and either sell them another car or position yourself so that you are the retailer of choice in the future, because the experience was so good when they needed to dispose of their vehicle,” he added. “But again, we think that it’s important to put the dealer at the center of the disposal process.”
'Liquid cash offer with context'
But as mentioned earlier, it goes beyond a name change. For example, Rowe said, the company has “rationalized the values.”
While the consumer is certainly trying to determine what his or her car is worth, he or she is also seeking to have “confidence” in the actual value, Rowe said. The consumer is provided “market context” through what KBB offers.
“You’re seeing us put the range inside (the offer), next to the Trade-In Marketplace value. So, it’s not just a liquid cash offer; it’s a liquid cash offer with context, which is incredibly important,” Rowe said. “Because if we provide context, it helps set the consumer up for the right conversation. It means the retailer is starting from a slightly different place when they have the conversation with the consumer about what the value of the vehicle is, because ultimately, there still is a condition assessment when the consumer brings the vehicle in.”
Another change is that the company has “optimized the funnel” by reformatting the questions in the vehicle condition quiz for consumers. The questions were rephrased to be “more intuitive” for the shopper.
The company also added some education elements to the overall experience to help set the expectation properly for what the car might be worth.
Using it as trade-in generator
What about dealers who were utilizing the Trade-In Marketplace more as a way to generate inventory?
“We think what drives the traffic – in this case, to get them inventory – is an Instant Cash Offer the customer is going to act on,” said Steve Lind, executive vice president of operations for the group.
He says the experience and the vehicle value provided by KBB can help as motivation for the consumer to make that active decision to take their car to the dealership.
From the marketing and advertising vantage point, will the fact that KBB Instant Cash Offer can be a viable way to help generate inventory certainly still be point of emphasis? Will there still be a push for that?
“Absolutely,” Eddie Tyner, the senior vice president of media sales for the group. “We think that that rebranding is going to significantly increase the number of offers we’re able to make, because the Kelley Blue book brand has such strength, and it’s going to lend a lot of credibility to the program.
“And that will be a big benefit to dealers,” said Tyner. “Dealers are excited about the change, and I think they’re going to get a huge benefit from that.”
He added: “I think they’re going to take a lot of the offers, because they’re going to be legitimate offers. But even in those cases where they don’t, the improvement that they will get in terms of people walking through the door — Jared calls them ‘at-bats’ — they will get huge benefits then.”