When they arrive sometime next year, Citroën India will not necessarily have large dealerships; the company says a 150 sq mt showroom will do just fine, even in larger cities like Mumbai. Surprising as it may sound, this could be quite a master stroke.
The obvious reason behind the move is to improve dealer viability; smaller showrooms equals lower costs. But the company also believes this is something that customers would prefer. Having done their research online, buyers would prefer spending time behind the wheel; so the company would prefer smaller showrooms with a fleet of test drive cars and focus on customer hospitality rather than just sheer size.
With the smaller format stores, Citroën feels they can also create a warm and inviting atmosphere. To that end, the company has already created its ‘La Maison’ format that’s small, with wood and earthy tones, cosy seating areas, and a well-trained staff. The format has already been rolled out to 17 cities worldwide and Citroën says data shows higher customer satisfaction scores here than in their older-style, larger showrooms.
I think the company is really onto something. Think about it: when you’re car shopping, all you want is to see the car you’re considering and have a meaningful drive. But all too often dealers trip over themselves trying to offer you a wide beverage and snack selection, when a nice tea or coffee would do. Then they set up a children’s play areas so mommy and daddy can peacefully shop; then again, kids are big influencers so why not skilfully include them in the shopping process? Then there are the large parking lots at big dealers when a mall-established showroom would have the customers park themselves and not really be dissatisfied at all.
So Citroën’s small, warm and friendly showrooms would do just fine. Of course, there are challenges. Customers tend to associate the size of a showroom with a brand’s size and stability. And as the number of models on offer and footfalls increase, having just two cars on display means fewer interaction points.
But I think the benefits outweigh the perils for Citroën, who even after four years, will have only four models on offer. When footfalls do increase, Citroën can address this with more test-drive cars at each location and/or have a very structured home-visit format. Another option is to open additional outlets, which increases your footprint, bringing you closer to your customers; and with the La Maison format, this is easier to do. As for the association of showroom size and company stability, slick advertising and communication can bring about great brand awareness. The French are known for romance, and so for Citroën at least it would do well to KISS: Keep It Small and Savvy.
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