While heightened gas prices attracted consumers to scooters last summer, some industry officials are suggesting to steer away from that method this year and focus on scooters’ other economical aspects.
There are two types of scooter riders that dealers should market to differently — people who’ve ridden motorcycles and scooters before and people who haven’t, says Gary Kimball of Kimball Communications, a company that works with electric scooter OEM Vectrix.
“For scooter riders, they have one mindset because they’re familiar with scooters, they understand the benefits,”?he said. “For motorcycle riders, it’s not going to replace the bike they’re riding on the weekends. It’s pretty common for riders to have more than one bike. We focus on: This is a bike you can use to get back and forth during the week, and you can still have your Harley or whatever it is you ride on the weekends.”
The other group is people who haven’t ridden a two-wheeler before but are environmentally conscious. Some of which are looking for an alternative mode of transportation.
“That’s one of the whole premises with Vectrix and why it was started — urban congestion,” Kimball said. “Parking and pollution, it helps with all those.”
While gas prices are also in that mix, Ivan Escalante, CF MOTO’s national sales manager, says they probably won’t be as great as concern as last year.
“$3 per gallon helps a lot. It gets the consumers thinking, anything close to $4 per gallon is the magic number,” he said. “We believe that if gas prices near $4 per gallon, it will drive the consumers the same as it did last year.”
Another economical aspect to focus on is the stimulus package and tax credit for motorcycles. Kimball added, “It makes it a little more economical for people.”
Some OEMs are helping their dealers increase floor traffic by offering special promotions.
The Piaggio Group has begun offering a 12 Month Test Ride, a program that offers qualified buyers the opportunity to experience select Piaggio, Aprilia and Vespa scooters without a long-term commitment.
The offer includes the option to return the scooter to participating dealers after 365 days of ownership if the buyer decides the two-wheel lifestyle isn’t right for them after all.
“It’s our mission to remove any roadblocks keeping even more Americans from discovering just how much money and time they can save, and how much fun they can have, by adding two wheels to their garage,” Paolo Timoni, president and CEO of Piaggio Group Americas, said in a press release.
Often times it’s a matter of getting people involved. Some industry officials share the consensus that the more dealers can get their consumers participating in events and activities with the dealership, the better.
“The dealers have had good luck when they’ve had events and promoted Vectrix,” Kimball said. “One of the reasons is it’s created some press coverage in their local markets, which has helped.”
Philip McCaleb, president of Genuine Scooter Co., believes so strongly in hosting events and putting on activities that he only offers co-op on certain types of advertising for the company’s dealers.
“We co-op on activities, displays and progressive advertising,” he noted. “We will participate with dealers on activities and projects that benefit both (the dealer and OEM) and stuff that we both can participate in.
“Our philosophy is rather than keep the lion share of the margin for us and give it back (to the dealers) in the form of a co-op check, we let the dealer make the margin and help the more successful dealers with a shared expense.”
— Karin Gelschus
Copyright 2009 Powersports Business