We can appreciate that car-buying is a highly experiential endeavor. I mean, you really need to feel the car before you buy it. So it's especially important that the marketing needs to be as experiential as possible. A relatively straightforward way to make any marketing into experiential marketing is to make personalization a cornerstone of the experience.

ZR1enginearea12808That's why I love the thinking from Chevy's Corvette team. According to this MediaPost article:  

The General Motors division is also expanding a slate of owner-experience programs. Chevrolet has for many years offered people who buy a Corvette a kind of automotive obstetrical experience: they can travel to Bowling Green, Ky. and take delivery of their baby right off the assembly line.

Now Chevrolet is adding a new angle for those who plan to spend around $110,000 for the Corvette ZR1 supercar, which Chevrolet introduced about two years ago. Rather than let people take personal delivery of their 636-hp ZR1 in Kentucky, the division is allowing buyers of both the ZR1 and Z06 to help build the cars' engines at the Wixom, Mich. plant where they are handmade.

The Corvette Engine Build Experience adds $5,800 to the tab. Fitzpatrick says GM expects one or two customers per week to come to Wixom and participate. Those customers will get a call from a "concierge" who will help arrange the trip. The customer handles airfare but GM springs for local travel, accommodations at The Inn at St. John's, food and the roster of activities at the Performance Build Center, Fitzpatrick says.

"It's the ultimate in personalization," he says. "There's a core group that (is) fanatical about the car, and they probably know all the builders at the build center, so for them it's an opportunity to connect even more to the car; but we don't expect a major take rate." He says in the 20 or so years that Chevy has offered museum delivery for the Corvette, there has been a 2% to 3% take rate for Corvette buyers.

The engines built with customers' assistance get a personalized nameplate before being crated and shipped to Bowling Green for installation. The reason that such a program is even possible at Chevrolet, where assembly lines dominate, is that the Corvette Z versions are hand-built at the Wixom center. Engines built under the Engine Build Experience are still covered by Chevy's transferable 5-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty, per GM. "To our knowledge we are the only ones offering something like this," Fitzpatrick says.

Sure, most of us can't afford this experience. But it's great to see a moribund brand like GM going the extra mile (and making some money) in experiential endeavors.

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