Volume 13, Issue 5 - September/October 2011

Field of Vision
from the editor


Are Your Customers Branded—Yet?
by Penny Stacey

Most of us have a loyalty to some brand—whether it’s Starbucks coffee, a particular vehicle manufacturer, maybe Nike or Adidas shoes, a certain type of spaghetti sauce, or a particular grocery store; the list goes on.

But there are many, many items that most of us are comfortable buying generic. For example, I am perfectly happy with generic plastic wrap (over the often popular Saran™ wrap), even if it doesn’t always cling the way it’s supposed to, off-brand potato chips and generic canned goods. I personally just can’t see where Del Monte (or whatever brand) peas are necessarily going to be better in taste or quality than my grocer’s supplier.

An industry executive recently suggested, though, that just the way consumers are very particular about their brands with certain items—such as coffee or gasoline—the same soon is going to happen with glass. This is further reinforced by the many value-added enhancements we’ve seen in windshields in recent years—everything from acoustics (glass that reduces noise for its passengers), to rain sensors, even to heated windshields.

I spoke to representatives of two manufacturers—Pilkington and Carlex—about the topic of auto glass branding and both noted that they are encouraging retailers to promote their brands directly to consumers (see related story on page 40). Pilkington even is in the process of launching a targeted program that will go directly to consumers to educate them on the value of the Pilkington brand (and original-equipment manufactured glass in general).

But you’ll notice a glaring omission from the article—a retail perspective. That is because, unfortunately, I couldn’t find a retailer that is pushing brand actively at this point. I spoke to one of the industry’s pioneers, who shall remain nameless, but he said at this point his company brings up brand only if the consumer is really pushing for a dealer part. Otherwise, the company merely promotes OEM products and their benefits. He said this could change when and if consumers do reach the point where they are aware of the variety in auto glass brands, but this time hasn’t arrived yet.

As always, I’d like to hear from you, though. Are you seeing an increase in brand awareness? And, if not, do you think this will change? Beyond that, how do you handle instances in which consumers insist on dealer parts—but are insured by companies that aren’t willing to pay for them? Please email me at pstacey@glass.compstacey@glass.com.

Penny Stacey is the editor of AGRR magazine.


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