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is the adaptation of products to meet individual requirements.
Mr. Pinder, every Opel that reaches a customer already has a customized color, chassis, interior, and upholstery. Isn’t that enough?
Of course there is already an immense number of options for individualizing every Opel model. The configurator allows everyone to customize the car they want. But the personalization trend doesn’t stop there. To the contrary, it’s advancing rapidly. Today’s customers want more than just a product that has been customized to suit their requirements; they want to be able to give that product a highly personal touch.
And accessories can provide this personal touch?
Absolutely. Accessories are a necessary step in achieving the next level of personalization. Useful, high-quality accessories both ensure a clear competitive edge and lead to innovation.
How do accessories lead to innovation?
Accessories are more than just roof racks and tire chains; they are true innovations developed directly for the cars themselves. Take the electronic parking assistant, for example. It began as an accessory and now it has almost become a standard feature. And we have restructured the processes to accelerate the rollout of complex innovations like this one. Four years before a car hits the market, the Accessory & Personalization team at the ITEZ works with the car designers to develop accessories at the same time as the car itself is being developed. The illuminated Opel logo on the door sill panel of the new Astra is an excellent example. It exudes class.
Engineers have also developed the Flex Bar System for the new Astra.
What does it do?
This modular system is an integrated accessory linked to the Astra’s power supply and it opens up a whole new range of possibilities. With the Flex Bar System in the central console you can either charge your cell phone with the help of a special mount, or you can attach an AirWellness fragrance diffuser that uses electrical power to release a fragrance into the car.
So it takes over the job of the car air freshener dangling from the rearview mirror …
There is a world of difference between a car air freshener and the AirWellness diffuser. The diffuser has been developed and designed to suit the car; it really catches the eye. And we have managed to bring in renowned perfumer Andreas Baron Freytag von Loringhoven as a partner. The role of fragrance should not be underestimated by any means. Every shopping center uses it to direct customers towards certain areas, for example. And a pleasant odor in a car can significantly improve one’s sense of wellbeing.
David Pinder assumed the position of Director of Individualization&Accessories in late 2014. “I was surprised by how multifaceted and complex the subject is. It involves practically every area, from development and retailer communication to after-sales,” he explains. Customer requests have played a central role in his work for years. Pinder previously served as Director of Portfolio Planning and Product Research, where he was responsible for tracking future trends in the automotive industry. Trained as a mechanical engineer, he has worked at GM for 22 years. He started out in sales at Vauxhall in 1993, and in 1996 he transferred to the Opel plant in Rüsselsheim.
Unique (from Latin unus, meaning a/an, one)
Designates an object as one of a kind. The opposite of a mass-produced product.
Speaking of wellbeing: In addition to the fragrance diffuser, the Astra also features a massage feature in the driver’s seat for improved comfort …
And that is hardly a coincidence. Wellness is an area we intend to focus on increasingly as we design our models in the years to come. More specifically, we would like to establish a sub-brand that emphasizes an atmosphere of wellbeing and elegance, in much the same way that OPC stands for exciting, sporty accessories. And like OPC’s sportiness, the sphere of elegance and wellness has the potential to engender a brand all its own.
You took over the area an year ago. What makes the accessory business unique?
I was really surprised by how complex the work is. The accessories business involves practically every area in our company, from planning and development to retailer communication, marketing, and after-sales. It is both an opportunity and a challenge. Bringing everyone on board so that progress can be made in the area of accessories is a mammoth undertaking.
How much untapped potential lies in accessories?
Plenty. On the product side, we are already ideally positioned. Our portfolio contains more than 50 product families. Unfortunately, we aren’t yet selling enough, because the one area we clearly need to improve in is promoting these products. The first step will be to once again offer an accessory catalog and to incorporate accessories into the My Opel app. Apart from that, we are working on an e-commerce solution and various promotional campaigns, including ones designed for social networks.
Con | fig | u | ra | tion
Comes from the Latin configurare, to shape after a pattern.
What role do dealers play?
Just as we understand accessory development to be central to our business, accessory sales, too, should play a crucial role in the sales process. This is not the case right now. We need to make dealers more aware of the accessories we offer. Because one thing is certain: The accessory business is a field where there is money to be made – and profit can be boosted. Not only through sales alone.
Look at the ADAM. The dealer has a model with a black interior kit on the lot, but the customer would rather have yellow decorative trim on the dashboard. The interior kit is so cleverly designed that it can be changed by hand in just a few moments. And the customer is satisfied. Such opportunties can improve profitability and surprise the customer.
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A moveable object designed to serve the purposes of a higher-level object.
Last updated October 2015