I recently came across an interesting article on the state and hopes of the LPG industry in Australia. It serves as a good product focused marketing strategy example.
These last few years they’ve faced a declining market due to the popularity of the hybrids, high tech fuel efficient engines and the resurgence of diesel power.
Michael Carmody, the CEO of LPG Australia, has a mandate to be product centred – he is after all the head of a product focused entity. So in response to a declining market it is no surprise to read he’s staying “on product”. However he is also representing the LPG converters and installers who have been doing it very tough. I think they need some better advice.
As quoted on a recent article on the carsales.com.au network, he states:
“The decline in vehicle conversions started occurring in 2008, which I guess was the heyday of vehicle conversions — and the conversions have been declining since that period, where today the market is doing it extremely tough… in terms of keeping that vehicle conversionindustry a viable industry.”
He goes on to implore the conversion industry to get their marketing hat on. Sounds good, but remember he’s a product guy, so don’t get too excited. It’s only going to be product marketing.
- Reinvention of the fuel’s marketing
- Improving the presentation of the fuel on service station forecourts
- Establishing closer ties with the local manufacturers
- National certification scheme for installers
- Put R&D money into converting hybrids to run on LPG
The last point sounds promising, however as the article and Carmody state, converting Prius’s to LPG isn’t particularly easy, there are a number of issues. He also states Toyota are pursuing all electric motors moving forward, so even if such a kit was made, shelf life would be short. This leaves us with the other points, and a poor, sorry list of answers they are.
Let’s hear him out. Here is his final call to arms to put on the marketing hat and think different:
“The industry has got to make that call; if the industry wants a business-as-usual approach, then that graph will keep heading south,”
Now this great advice. BUT everything he has proposed is business-as-usual, product centric solutions. The call should be, stop and think about what is actually being provided by the conversion industry:
Lower running costs for your car
Then look to opportunities in that space. What about aftermarket hybrid kits? Aftermarket all electric kits? Prius battery rejuvenation/replacement services, electric water pumps, solar roof matts to power ancillaries… Small LPG kits in high tech diesels…
Now we’re talking.
Get the product had off and think about the real benefit that the LPG installers are providing. Then find other avenues to deliver that benefit, LPG or not.