Auto Industry Says: Just Buy It

There are lots of ways to buy, but consumer confidence is down and no one’s spending.  One place that’s clear is the auto industry, where every manufacturer is vying for consumer attention. They've done all but put on a hat and started singing – actually, I do think I saw a commercial like that the other night. Anyway, the question that comes to mind is: What will it take to get people to buy again?  The answer that Hyundai and Harley Davidson have come up with is that they don't have to "technically" buy anything.

With two recent campaigns, both companies have made it easy for people to purchase a new car or motorcycle guilt-free, because it's basically free - and ultimately genius. First up, Hyundai's message to Americans is, "Don't worry about losing your income, we'll help you pay for your car," and many will need to help. Hyundai is offering to pay up to three months of car payments for those customers who lose their jobs. What happens if you still can't pay for your car? Hyundai is not too concerned; you can bring the car back. While the campaign will certainly drive (pun intended) a lot of attention to the brand, I would be interested to see how many consumers take the plunge and purchase a brand new automobile right now. Maybe we'll be more apt to buy a motorcycle?

At least that's what Harley Davidson is hoping. Last month, any biker walking into a Harley Davidson shop could buy an '08 or '09 Sportster ™. As most Americans will, consumers are likely to decide next year that they need an upgrade. Harley Davidson is prepared; they’ll let customers trade in their Sportsters for the exact value that was originally paid. The catch: you have to upgrade to a new bike. While consumers won't get their money back, they will get the next best thing, a bigger, better toy to show off.

I can't say that I'm totally on board with buying a motorcycle or car right now, but I am all about companies creatively helping consumers get the things they want most.

Check out the campaigns and drive safely!

UPDATE from Greenough: Ztail launch gives consumers new way to own 

Today, Greenough client Ztail launched a new service designed to extend the types of flexible ownership we’ve come to know and love in the auto industry to new categories – consumer electronics, sporting goods and baby gear.  What’s unique about Ztail?  It guarantees the resale price right when you buy.  That means, if you buy a new $170 iPod today, they’ll guarantee you can sell it for at least $90 within the next year.  And they’ll help you do that on eBay.  So, consumers (like me) that aren’t ready to splurge on a new car, but have been waiting to upgrade their digital camera (again, like me) can do it risk-free.  Check them out and see what TechCrunch has to say.

- Contributed by Danielle Eccleston.  Follow her @Danielle2784.
- Updated by Gretchen Bender.  Follow her @gbender26.