Thursday, November 30, 2006

Luxury auto dealerships invest in good design

While consumer retail garners the most attention when it comes to in-store media, a lot is going on in the retail automotive sector that deserves some commentary as well. My company has been working in that space for about four years now, installing both interactive kiosks and digital signs into hundreds of US dealers, and big chains like AutoNation have also invested in chain-wide digital media networks.

USA Today apparently noticed the trend, as they published this article about the lengths that luxury retail auto dealers are going to in order to bring their dealerships up to snuff. They note:

At Fletcher Jones Motorcars, customers stroll through a gallery of Mercedes-Benzes, linger at the cappuccino bar, tap balls on the putting green or go for a pedicure.

A couple of blocks away, Newport Lexus boasts marble fireplaces, Oakley and Tommy Bahama beachwear boutiques — and a flat-screen television, tuned to ESPN, of course, mounted above the urinal in the men's room.

The two dealerships are pouring on the fancy fixtures and service extras as they vie for a larger share of one of the nation's most prosperous luxury-car markets, coastal Orange County. But even far from "The O.C.," auto industry officials see the sprucing up of luxury-car dealers as a sign that the high-end market could finally be brightening.

I don't know if I'd particulary want a pedicure from my auto dealer, but it's certainly interesting to see that retail design is being used as a gauge for market performance.

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