The need to socialize is a fundamental requirement by us all. After all, culture is born through socialization and what better way to socialize than to mingle around people of similar taste and mindset? This is especially true for car clubs and one of the most close knit car clubs you can find today is the Alfa Romeo Car Club (AROC). Established as an official club in 1993, it has its roots traced back to the late 80s. Today, they have over 600 members and is very active organising activities monthly, keeping well in touch with its members and sharing ideas and tips with potential owners.
Honestly, Alfa Romeo is one of those rare breed of cars that is far off in my mind when thinking about the various automotive brands in Malaysia. Ok, a Skoda is probably rarer here than an Alfa and even less well known but seriously, how many non-Alfisti would name Alfa Romeo as one of the top 10 car brands that comes to mind? So when I do come across the marque, it is a refreshing change for me …. which is exactly what happened this morning in Citta Mall
An assembly of a whole parking lot of Alfa Romeos. It was truly a sight to behold.
Held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Alfa Romeo Giulia, the members of AROC gathered this morning at Citta Mall’s open air carpark from 8.30am to 2.00pm. Unfortunately, I had to leave at around 10.30am but the cars seen there were amazing.
You could, of course find a couple of the Giulia which were the star of the event. Hats off to the owners of these beauties who still look amazing after all these years.
Other great classics presents were the 2.0 Spider. I don’t know about you but after seeing this, I fantasize how liberating it feels like driving around with such a classical dashboard looking back at me and wind in my face.
And of course the newer models were present as well:
To add to the ambiance, the camaraderie among members and owners present were so positively palpable, it makes me nostalgic of the good old days when I was more active in car clubs. To the members of AROC, thank you, for giving me the opportunity to experience seeing what I saw today. I didn’t managed to talk to anyone there but seeing all the smiling faces between proud members kinda rubs onto me.
Sime Darby Auto Connexion being one of the principal supporters of this gathering took the opportunity to showcase its latest models: the 159 and the Guilietta.
I like the Guilietta. It’s small, unique and, if we look on paper, quite a nice car to drive. The Guilietta has a 1.4litre Turbo MultiAir 16V engine, producing 170Hp and 230Nm @ 1,750rpm. It’ll probably eat my Golf TSi for supper with its 7.7 seconds 0-100kph acceleration.
You know, the first thing you’ll notice when you sit inside is the awesome leather smell. I can probably relate better to how a pair of car keys feel like when kept in a luxury leather bag after sitting in the Giulietta for a few minutes.
Seriously, after seeing such enthusiasm from the owners, I was so tempted to just go home and get my cheque book and just beg them to take my money. It was a good thing there weren’t any sales persons around when I was checking the car out.
Now, to come to my point about this article; how much do you think Sime Darby paid to get such publicity? Answer; probably not much.
As I’ve said, the entire buying experience of a potential car buyer hinges on just that …. the experience itself. What car clubs can do for manufacturers is they add more positive elements into the experience itself. Think about it …. any persons who went to Citta Mall this morning may probably experienced what I did:-
- Enthusiasm all around
- Proud and happy
- Witness the rich history of Alfa Romeos as the owners line up their car according to model and lineage
- Socialize with others who’re probably successful in their career. Alfa Romeos aren’t exactly what we would call affordable here in Malaysia
- Fun, fun, fun as activities for the family keeps everyone in an uplifting mood
Like I said … the display cars were there …. what was missing in my experience this morning was a sales guy to convert that positive feeling I have of the brand into an action of purchasing a vehicle. It was rather sad that the booth there seemed to be more interested in selling Alfa Romeo merchandizing instead of the vehicles itself. However, bearing in mind that it was still early so perhaps the sales person had not arrived or the crowd wasn’t large enough to warrant any attention.
Seriously, had I not encountered the gathering this morning, I would not have bothered to research more about the history of Alfa Romeo and the existence of a strong official club. In a sense, both AROC and Sime Darby had succeeded in creating more awareness for the brand and I applaud Sime Darby, being the principal franchise owner of the Alfa Romeo brand in Malaysia for supporting the local car clubs and in doing so, has created a bridge towards people (yours truly included) who may have remained ignorant of the brand.
How much do you pay for loyalty? Priceless …. yet in an event like this, the financial requirement is probably as much as door gifts, lucky draws, and at most some refreshment. Citta Mall, being one of the supporters is probably offering the parking space and signage for free to generate more awareness of its existence and tenants so really, at the end of the day, everyone wins.
- Why aren’t other principals tagging onto this simple yet cost effective way to reach potential customers?
- Why don’t principals reward owners for their support so that when that kid sitting at the back of the then-new vehicle will buy their brand of cars again when he/she grows up?
- Why don’t principals build rapport with car clubs who can potentially assist the principal in spotting any threat to the brand?
- Why aren’t principals tapping to the vast pool of information available within the owners car club and disseminate accurate and useful information to them once it is available?
- Why aren’t principals fan the flames of loyalty and create heroes of the brand who will soldier its values in the face of online criticism by non-believers?
Traditional notions of marketing are dead. The customer base today is radically different than days gone by. Sime Darby Auto Connexion is probably one of those few who recognizes the need to change the way marketing is done for the brands under their portfolio. When will the other players wake up to the fact that to survive in today’s highly competitive market, you need every single channel and resource available to you. And believe me, no one sells your brand better than a believer.