Buying a car or truck is usually a major purchase. Whether it’s acquired for fun, work, or as part of a collection, once the vehicle is in your driveway or garage, knowing its features and how they work, learning about maintenance, and understanding troubleshooting procedures all become an important part of ownership.
So where does a vehicle purchaser turn for that information? Most people would simply reach into the glove compartment, pull out the owner’s manual, and find the information they need.
But what if the manual is not there? What if the previous owner misplaced it, tossed it away, or for some reason didn’t turn it over when the vehicle changed hands?
Fortunately, a missing manual is not be a problem. Factory-authored owner’s and service manuals are readily available on the Internet for almost every car or truck on the road—even for antique, exotic, muscle, and collector cars. In addition, seemingly hard-to-locate publications can be found and ordered with relative ease. Such manuals are located and ordered every day.
Now comes the interesting part: the individuals who buy owner’s and service manuals, especially those who buy them for collector or muscle cars, are often very loyal to their make of car. They may want to show off their pride in ownership, and savvy marketers can extend that vehicle brand loyalty to embrace an array of similarly branded merchandise and apparel.
Consider this example: A Ford Mustang enthusiast purchases a classic 1965 Mustang convertible. He—or she—may want an owner’s manual (not just to learn about the car, but to make the vehicle “complete”). He also likes to do his own maintenance, so he’ll look for a service manual. If he’s a real buff, a body repair manual may also be on his shopping list. And if his loyalty to the Mustang brand is strong, he may want to display that allegiance through a branded cap, T-shirt, jacket or sweater displaying the prancing Mustang logo. That devotion to the brand can go even further and be applied to coffee mugs, sporting goods, and an array of vehicle accessories. The possibilities of merchandise up-sells and cross-sells from sales of publications are considerable. And because factory-authored publications are credible—after all, the factory is the vehicle authority, the branded merchandise offered is also seen as “factory-authored.”
It may be surprising to know that while individual owners buy manuals, automobile dealers also purchase the publications. In fact, the vast majority of manuals for current to five-year-old vehicles are bought by dealers. That’s because the used car business is a huge revenue center for dealers, and buyers want manuals with their cars. Dealers have to replace missing manuals in the used cars they sell. New cars, obviously come with owner’s manuals, but every once in a while a replacement manual is required there, too.
For models five to nine years old, sales are split between dealers and private sellers so owner’s manual sales volume is divided almost equally between the dealers and individual buyers and sellers. But for vehicles 10 years and older, as well as for collector cars and trucks, it’s individuals making the larger percentage of the purchases.
When it comes to service and technical manuals that cover mechanical, electrical, and body repairs, it’s almost always individuals (“shade tree” mechanics, car customizers) who order the publications. Dealers and service centers can access any technical information they need online.
Consequently, enterprising marketers who want to sell branded automotive merchandise should consider dealers and individuals interested in factory-authored publications. With dealers as resellers of merchandise and individuals as direct purchasers, the possibilities are attractive. When someone purchases an owner’s or service manual through a website for their vehicle, it isn’t necessarily the end of the online relationship. It should be thought of as a beginning.
Come back frequently and check our blog postings. And you may want to visit www.helminc.com to see how factory-authored publications are ordered and distributed.