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Arctic Revamps Sled Promotion

While the other snowmobile manufacturers are wrapping up their spring sales programs with road shows, special pricing and product incentives, Arctic Cat is watching from the sidelines.
After years of sponsoring an elaborate spring buy program — including one-of-a-kind graphic options — Arctic Cat is shifting its efforts and marketing dollars to a new fall program. Sure, consumers may still purchase Arctic Cat snowmobiles in the spring, but without any special promotions.
“The reality is that consumers are waiting until the fall or early winter to make their purchases,” said vice president of marketing Robert Bonev during the Arctic Cat dealer meeting presentation. “We’re moving our sales and promotions emphasis to the fall and early winter. We will place maximum efforts into the critical fall and early winter selling periods.”
Spring advertising is the bare minimum this year, Joe Klosterman, Arctic Cat’s U.S. national sales manager. The traveling product show was cut from 80 stops to seven — and those seven shows (five in Canada and two in the U.S.) were ones that Arctic Cat had a contractual obligation to fill. Direct mail was sent only to customers deemed as “diehards” and there was limited Arctic Cat advertising in spring issues of snowmobile magazines. Literature and DVDs on the 2006 models are available this spring.
Sales trends were a key factor in Arctic Cat’s decision, Bonev said, referring to a graph showing a sharp decline in spring sales over the past seven years. In 1997, Arctic Cat sold 14,000 units during its spring sales drive; in 2004, it sold 4,200.
Arctic Cat leaders have decided that putting marketing money into spring programs no longer makes financial sense. All but the diehard buyer has been lured away from the spring purchase to the fall purchase, as they’ve found dealers offering just as deep of discounts, if not deeper.
“The fall is when it all happens these days,” Klosterman said. “The boat and the motorcycle get stored for the winter, the leaves change color and snowmobilers start to get anxious.”
Klosterman said that the money saved from minimal spring programs — estimated at $2 million — will be put toward a two-week national open house from October 15 to 31 and toward increased fall advertising. Full details of the sales program will be announced in mid-July. The program will include programs for non-current machines.
“Instead of being in a Holiday Inn conference room in the spring, they’ll be in your dealership in the fall, ready to purchase clothing, oil, and, of course, a new sled,” John Tranby, marketing communications manager, said.
The fall promotion will be called “Arctic Blast” and Tranby said it will be promoted longer and in more places than past programs. Arctic Cat will provide dealers with point-of-purchase materials, as well as brochures on the entire 2006 lineup. There will also be a direct mail campaign.
The Canadian spring and fall programs will mimic the US programs.
“The roadmap on how we need to go forward needs to be based more than ever on exactly what, when and where the consumers needs are,” Bonev said.

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