Show and Tell, Not Sell

The King of Prussia shopping mall outside Philadelphia is billed as the largest in the U.S. with stores displaying all sorts of products such as clothes, shoes, electronics and Chevrolets. That's right, Chevys. Intended to show off its latest and greatest, the General Motors Corp. division in November opened ChevyShowcase, a store in the Pennsylvania mall, about a mile from Valley Forge National Historic

The King of Prussia shopping mall outside Philadelphia is billed as the largest in the U.S. with stores displaying all sorts of products such as clothes, shoes, electronics and Chevrolets.

That's right, Chevys.

Intended to show off its latest and greatest, the General Motors Corp. division in November opened ChevyShowcase, a store in the Pennsylvania mall, about a mile from Valley Forge National Historic Park, where American soldiers spent a harsh winter during the Revolutionary War.

Today, modern American shoppers head for the upscale mall in droves, about 24 million a year.

That convinced General Motors Corp. to open the Chevy store displaying about six vehicles and accessories. It is not a conventional dealership. It is not staffed with salespersons nor does it directly sell cars.

Test drives are available. There also are vehicles displayed at various locations in the mall, a sprawling complex that contains eight department stores, 365 specialty stores and 40 restaurants.

Chevrolet will also produce mall events year-round and advertise its presence with signs and promotional materials around the facility. In addition, Chevrolet becomes the official car of the mall.

ChevyShowcase is a seven-day-a-week operation designed to show and tell, not sell, says Dave Klemm, Chevrolet's regional marketing manager.

It is staffed by one or two sales specialists. The aim is to expose potential car buyers to a wide variety of Chevy products.

“The partnership with King of Prussia Mall gives Chevrolet a premier marketing venue to attract new customers who might not know about our great new cars, trucks and SUVs,” Klemm says. “Our existing customers will get a chance to see the latest updates to their favorite vehicles.”

Computer kiosks allow store visitors to download information on Chevy's complete lineup. The kiosks also contain a listing of local Chevy dealers. The store personnel answer questions about vehicles, but steer clear of price quotes.

To provide pricing information, local dealers set up a purchasing website that is accessible from the kiosks. It will provide complete information on options for vehicles, along with prices. The same information is available online at www.ChevyShowcase.com.

The attention-grabbing showroom is inspired by a Samsung display in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Apple and other consumer product makers also have set up non-selling showrooms in U.S. shopping malls, Klemm says.

“It's an example of how GM is spending its marketing budgets this year,” he says. “We're giving a big chunk to local regions to target the markets that need it most, whether geographic or ethnic.”

The showroom is not intended as an alternative to visiting dealerships. It is a joint effort with the local dealer-marketing group.

Displayed vehicles (usually three cars and three trucks) are changed every two months.

“We're discussing the use of SEMA-type vehicles, or maybe even displaying concept vehicles,” Klemm says. Also planned are early showings of upcoming models, such as the '06 Tahoe SUV.

“We don't want to preempt our dealers, but we want people to get an early look at these vehicles,” says Klemm.

There is no grand scheme for ChevyShowcases in other markets, he says. But he didn't discount the possibility either.

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