Showroom appeal for cars: why it’s now more important than ever

Peugeot 2008 showroom appeal 1The Peugeot 2008 test car I currently have on loan has delivered the fastest positive-impact impression of any mainstream car this year.

I looked at it, quite liked it, then unlocked it as normal… to reveal a cabin that quite took me by surprise. I really wasn’t expecting something as smart-looking and rich in material choice as this. An eyebrow was indeed raised.

Alcantara seats, leather-look dash top, iDrive-style monitor, contrast stitching, the odd bit of chrome and piano black and, to top it all, the first automotive mainstream application of copper-look trim inserts. It was all unexpected and very impressive.

Yup, the 2008 delivered a standout first impression that would likely stick with me for a good while (indeed, it was still present as I started writing this blog post, two hours after the first unlock).

And this is exactly what car manufacturers need to deliver in order to win sales in 2013.

Showroom appeal

Why? Because people are visiting showrooms later and later in the buying process. They are thus not getting the hands-on experience with the cars until they’re almost ready to buy. So, any manufacturer that can deliver an immediate ‘buy me’ reason in this critical window gives itself an instant significant advantage.

Peugeot 2008 drivers will get that, and as the actual dealer-based part of the buying process is now so condensed, it’s likely to stick firmly in their mind sufficiently long enough to complete the final bit of the decision making process. Most, we’re told, have already made up their mind before they get to the dealer these days – the 2008’s interior surprise and delight seals the deal tight shut.

What’s more, it’s also powerful enough to potentially convince some of the waverers to commit, too. Maybe even send those seeking confirmation the rival car they were 95 per cent certain to buy was the right one scurrying back to their computers and tablets.

Expect more of this: richer interiors, more immediate delivery of features, a lot more on the surface to make cars stand out. To give them the best possible chance in the short amount of ‘real’ time they have with buyers before they commit.

Just so long as they don’t forget about the substance beneath all the jewellery…