By Amy Antenora
Andrew Coccari has built a successful 24-year career in the automotive aftermarket by blending the art of marketing strategy with the science of consumer study. Currently the Director of Marketing for Honeywell Consumer Products Group’s Filtration business, Coccari is responsible for driving brand, consumer and b-to-b marketing strategies for the FRAM brand. In this exclusive, Executive Interview Coccari shared with aftermarketNews how the company utilized marketing strategy and consumer research to develop the new FRAM Advantage program.
In conjunction with the brand’s 75th anniversary, FRAM is working to re-engage in the Do-It-For-Me market with a unique new incentive program called FRAM Advantage. Why was this a good time to reintroduce FRAM to this marketplace?
We’ve always had a great presence in the WD/Installer Channel and have been working hard over the last 12 month to better address the needs of the changing marketplace. As everyone knows, there has been a significant shift from DIY to DIFM and now more than ever our consumers are looking for a place that installs FRAM filters. The whole purpose of this program is to help drive connectivity between FRAM consumers and today’s automotive service providers.
How was the FRAM Advantage program developed, and what makes it different from other incentive programs that technicians can participate in?
It was developed based on extensive consumer and customer research. We spoke to hundreds of jobbers, distributors and repair shops to better understand their business and find out what they really needed from a manufacturing partner. Simultaneously, we conducted consumer research that segmented today’s automotive buyers attitudinally instead of based strictly on DIY vs. DIFM. In both cases, we had to throw all preconceived notions aside and literally start from scratch. Once we collected all the input and data, we crafted a program that would help today’s service providers drive foot traffic, retain customers and increase margins.
What’s great is that we have a brand that resonates extremely well with today’s DIFM customer, so we can combine that brand power with access to a comprehensive line of premium products and innovative technology and offer several tailored business-building solutions for the aftermarket to take advantage of.
One of the important components of the program is the FRAMadvantage.com website, which provides training modules and technical service bulletins, product information and access to our ASE certified technicians. This site will also act as an enabler to help the distributor salesperson sell and track the program.
What incentives is FRAM offering the different levels of the distribution channel to get customers to participate?
The objective was to develop a program where every step in the channel benefits. We will have quarterly promotions, volume discounts, special racing perks and more for all levels of distribution.
If we can step back for a minute, let’s go back to the topic of branding. The value of brands is something we hear a lot about today. Have you found in your customer research that people are relying more on brands they trust, or has the public become a little more skeptical?
Even in a tough economic climate, you can’t underestimate the endorsement that a brand gives to a technician’s establishment or the value that a good brand can bring in terms of helping run their business better.
Consumers in this economy are certainly more skeptical and are spending their money with more discretion. But it’s imperative that brand leaders deliver more value in a difficult marketplace. At FRAM, we are all about driving the highest product technology at the right price so the end customer knows they are getting not only the right part but the best part for their car it’s all about giving them peace of mind in knowing they spent their money wisely.
The support that we can give based on our 75 years of learning, as well as our position in the marketplace is higher than a white box program might be able to afford. We are investing in the channel aggressively and are giving the consumer a value proposition that actually delivers something meaningful. That’s something I think only a great brand can do. And there are a lot of great brands in the aftermarket.
A lot of filter manufacturers are increasing their focus on cabin air filters lately. Why is this such a fast-growing category right now?
Millions of new vehicles each year are produced with an interior air filter compartment and it is expected that well over 100 million vehicles in North America will have one by next year. We are seeing so much growth in the industry because we are finally at a point where a lot of these vehicles are entering the aftermarket for service. Plus, a repair technician can add a lot of credibility, as well as margin, to their business by changing cabin air filters at the recommended intervals. Even for those consumers who are unaware of them, it’s a concept that’s easy to understand and people can latch on to.
At FRAM, we are trying to make it easy for the channel to increase their cabin air filter sales. We have a great product differentiator offering not only excellent protection from contaminants but great odor protection by using Arm & Hammer. Plus, we have posters and a tabletop unit for counter staff and service providers, and we also outline installation instructions on www.fram.com.
You are relatively new to FRAM. Tell us a little about your background and how it has helped you in this new role.
I actually started my professional career with FRAM as a territory manager in the Bronx. So, I’d like to think I’ve come full circle. I’ve carried a bag in this business and now I’m lucky enough to work on it again. My career has been built around combining consumer and customer insight with traditional marketing tools in an effort to deliver superior value to the consumers, customers as well as our company. Most of all, I love cars and the business and I enjoy bringing a level of authenticity to my work.
Making products and services better doesn’t just happen by flipping a switch. At FRAM we know it takes incremental work every day. I think FRAM does a good job and has a fantastic process and it’s been a great fit for me.