[column] Mark thinks cars are a hassle

I don’t know if you’ve seen the TV show, but in the cozy winter setting of the SBS6 studio, TV celebrity Linda de Mol interviewed our prime minister and created a unique piece of human television. It mainly provided the viewer with a sympathetic conversation and for Mark Rutte himself, the participation will undoubtedly have a positive impact on his image. That can hardly be missed.

Talpa scores

In any case, Linda de Mol’s personal approach caught on, because the SBS6 channel immediately achieved a viewing figure with 1.9 million viewers. Those nearly two million people were also the best Sunday score in four and a half years for the Talpa channel. The euphoria at the broadcaster was therefore great. So big that John de Mol is said to have called his sister out of bed at night with the freshly received ratings. So happy with SBS6. Enthusiasm, which is entirely justified, because the combination of guests and this human interest format resulted in authentic television. Television where our Prime Minister even briefly discussed his car.

Rutte does not attach such importance to his car, he mainly finds his car a hassle, he clearly stated. Time for the automotive sector to change that mindset


The car as “hassle” and a prime minister who shows in one of the most watched TV programs of recent times that he finds car ownership time-consuming must stimulate the car sector. However? In the interview with Linda de Mol, Mark Rutte airs loud and clear that he is especially happy to own only one car, because otherwise you have to spend more time on cars. “Without driving it, you are already working with a car five times a year. Winter tires, MOT, summer tires, maintenance and then you have not even driven them, ”the prime minister said when asked in the conversation with Linda. This statement about the time that cars cost a consumer is therefore a valuable eye-opener for the industry. A sector that logically thinks mainly in terms of cars and is often passionate about working on cars. Call it a hobby. However, people with a full agenda and less car interest experience this differently and apparently see going to the dealer for maintenance, tire changes, holiday checks or other services as “hassle”. That is clear from the remark of Mark Rutte. And yet it is precisely at this “consumer threshold” that there are opportunities for automotive companies.


Where forty years ago it was an outing to go to the village garage, drink a cup of coffee there and discuss trade-in or maintenance with the owner, there is less time for this nostalgia in today’s society. In recent decades, such a clear service need has arisen. A trend that opens the door to the development of new services. People are busy with work and sports, want quality time when they are not being lived by others and value maintaining social contacts. That takes time, in many cases even a lot of time. And then, according to recent research, we also spend more than two hours a day on our telephone gathering news, keeping digital contact or gaming.

In short, as a consumer we have little time left and are therefore open to new services that make our lives easier and more efficient. Especially when it comes to our car


Mark Rutte’s statement and the time investment he has to make in his private car to be able to drive it at all, does not stand alone. I see it around me and notice it in myself too. Going to the garage for maintenance I always really have to plan and because I am busy with other things, I continue driving until the service light actually comes on. And then I try to have everything done at once, because then you can at least move forward without disrupting your agenda. It should be noted here that I like cars and in itself like to be in garages. That is different if you find nothing to do with cars, then you run into an even higher threshold. In addition to planning maintenance work, many consumers also find washing, polishing and vacuuming cars a job that they really need to make time for. And if they want to enjoy their work a little longer, their car must also be waxed after washing. After all, in that case it takes a month longer for the dirt to adhere to the body again and there is longer enjoyment of a shiny car. Anyway, washing the car also takes quite a lot of time, even in a high-tech car wash. And this activity also causes – to put it in the words of our Prime Minister – “hassle”.

Car cleaning subscription

With this perception top of mind, there are great commercial opportunities for the industry to solve that “hassle”. It opens new doors to market the right services and thus offers a business perspective and valuable contact moments. Dealers often already have excellent services for changing summer and winter tires available and you can also see new initiatives in the form of maintenance subscriptions emerging during maintenance. Other car companies again work with pick-up and delivery services and thus relieve their customers. For car washing, the industry still often refers to the car wash, but there may also be service-providing opportunities there. After all, if the consumer perception of ‘being-busy-with-your-car’ suggests ‘hassle’, there must also be a market for the car-cleaning subscription, the automatic scheduling of appointments and / or standard return moments, I suspect. For example, having your car picked up on a Saturday morning three times a year, having it thoroughly washed by an expert, having the interior really cleaned and of course having the car beautifully shiny with the cleaning machine, sounds attractive to the busy customer.

Time to offer this kind of ‘hassle’ together with the tire changes, standard maintenance and holiday checks in a clear proposition at monthly prices


That is why there is an interesting mission in the field of automotive marketing. The automotive industry already offers many after-sales services, but apparently the image of many people is still too much in the direction of that “hassle”. In that context, there is therefore some marketing work to be done. A process that starts with a critical review of the existing services and the way in which they are advertised. Then a clear definition of all maintenance and support services. What do we offer? Which services do we put in a “package” and is this relevant for the customer? How are we going to get our message across the stage? It is then important to make services presentable in the form of clear packages and upsell options. After all, the customer wants to make an individual choice and also to know where he stands. Finally, there is the challenge of translating these “parcel services” into concrete advertising, because the volatility of our society also means that consumers become aware of a specific offer. And if even Mark Rutte still does not experience the convenience sufficiently, there is still plenty to do in terms of advertising.

Ministerial trigger

In this context, our Prime Minister’s comment on Linda’s talk show opens the door to powerful after-sales marketing. Something that sometimes misses out on car brands, but where there are very good opportunities. Aftersales is the discipline in the automotive industry that works with significantly less media money, especially when you compare it to the budget that is put into the sale of new cars. The question is whether that is justified.

Powerful marketing, packing services that every existing customer needs into one all-encompassing convenience plan, provides the industry with revenue, touch points, and loyalty. If you as a dealer or recognized repairer include maintenance, a tire change twice a year, an MOT, perhaps every three months a cleaning service, a holiday check and a pick-up and return service packed in this unique 360 ​​degree proposition, you help the busy customer of his or her worries. As an industry, you can offer this all-in proposition virtually risk-free, because there is enough data available to properly calculate subscription prices. Customers are now accustomed to monthly subscriptions through the smartphone and the dealer receives the certainty of frequent customer contact with such a proposition. Very valuable in the time when loyalty is a concern.

Mark therefore still thinks cars are ‘a hassle’, but if the industry picks up this statement with the right marketing, this ministerial trigger will soon generate extra sales. So on to a 360 degree convenience proposition.

Jos van den Bergh (1973) worked for almost 20 years in various PR & communication positions in the automotive industry and nowadays advises with his company MediaMondo automotive and media parties in the field of marketing communication, PR and media. He is also a dealer marketing advisor at BranchePartners in Houten. For MarketingTribune he critically follows the developments in the automotive world. Do you also need marketing advice? Mail Jos without obligation at


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