GM: Employee Discount

So what is happening to the American automotive industry? Once the envy of every even-slightly manufacturing based economy in the world, it is now on a road to suicide slowly being administered through doses of bad design, bad manufacturing, bad marketing and a total lack of understanding of where people's heads are headed.

This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that the foreign competition (at least that part that hasn't been gobbled up by the dying giants) seems to get the idea. All they have to do is sit back, working on refining their product offerings, and watch these meatheads try and kill each other off. (more inside)

The latest evidence of the frenzy that is eating up every ounce of profit and imagination in Detroit comes in the package of the Employee's Price promotions. Buy a car now and heck, you don't pay any more for it than Delores, the secretary in rubber allotment does. We may not have the car you want, we may have forgotten what excitement in driving means, we may not even care that our cars are falling apart years earlier than the competitions', but we are cheap.

And how are they going to get out of this mess? No one has set a deadline on the offer. They're just going to sit there and try and stare each other down, offering everything they have at a lower price, telling the American consumer that they've been overcharged for years. What happens when you go back to the “regular” price? Do you want to be the first airline to drop a frequent flyer program?

This offer feels like walking into a typical Chevrolet showroom (or Buick, or Pontiac, or Saturn…). The sales people attack. They ask you how big a payment you can afford. Then, they try and stick you into the car that the dealership has the most of in inventory.

The website feels the same way. Don't think about what you're buying--just buy something. If you go into a website for an Asian or European car, the idea is to sell you on the value of the car and make. You feel happy that you're spending your money well. American carmakers simply must get out of the idea that people are going to trade in their cars every few years. They aren't. They can't. And deals based only on a good price make a Toyota, or Nissan, or even Volvo showroom look pretty good.

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AnonymousCoward's picture

Every time I hear one of the "employee discount" ads, it must makes me think how irritating the whole thing must be for actual employees of the automakers. That discount is probably their main perk and now everyone gets it.

ahanft3's picture

I agree that this is a terrible campaign, but you forgot to mention that this has been a hugely successful and copied. That isn't good news for you and I that think this is terrible for the American car industry (or any industry that copies it). They might as well call it what it is:

A “We can’t afford to give our employees a discount anymore, and we are passing the savings on to you.” sale.

I rant about it more over at Be A Design Group.

You may remember I am a Toyota person. Don’t worry, I haven’t changed teams. Actually, my dad worked for General Motors for a while when I was growing up and my ears still perk up when I hear GM mentioned in the news. It has been nothing but bad news lately. Losing market share, cutting 25,000 jobs, and junk bond status have all colored the company recently. When I saw their new commercials proclaiming an “Employee discount for everyone,” I was skeptical. Reading between the lines, I assumed it really meant “We can’t afford to give our employees a discount anymore, and we are passing the savings on to you.” Surely the public wouldn’t be hooked by that promotion. Well, I was wrong. GM just had their best month since 2001, and the employee discount promotion is getting the credit. Good news for GM, I just hope their success doesn’t mean other companies will copy this promotion. I am tired of employee discounts for everybody already. Do you like the commercials? Was it designed better than I think? It is pretty impressive that they can overcome all the negative press with just an advertising campaign.