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Cadillac House May Be The Future Of ‘Brand Experience’ — But Can It Help Sell Cars At Local Dealerships?

Part lounge, part art gallery, part automoble showroom: Cadillac opened its New York brand experience center in May and the space's influence is soon to be felt at car dealers across the country.

There’s a different kind of showrooming discussion going on in the automotive marketing space.

As consumer grow more comfortable with buying even considered purchases like cars on the web, the traditional concept of the dealership showroom is undergoing a major review.

Cadillac House is a case in point. As part of its relocation from Detriot to New York City, in May, Cadillac opened a 12,000 square foot “brand experience center” in the fashionable SoHo district as a place to host events, vehicle exhibitions and “collaborative partnerships” with such non-auto related groups like the Council of Fashion Designers of America and brands like Joe Coffee.

Cadillacs will be stationed on the runway inside Cadillac House. And there's a place to sit and have coffee as well. Source: Cadillac and Gensler
Cadillacs will be stationed on the runway inside Cadillac House. And there’s a place to sit and have coffee as well. Source: Cadillac and Gensler

“Cadillac has built its nearly 114-year history by being at the forefront of automotive design, technology and style,” said Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac Chief Marketing Officer, at the time of the space’s opening. “With Cadillac House, we have an exciting opportunity to bring to life the brand’s unique passion and perspective for beyond the automotive space.”

Cadillac's Nathan Tan at the Brand Innovators summit (on the far right)
Cadillac’s Nathan Tan at the Brand Innovators summit (on the far right)

In a panel session at the Brand Innovators Summit at offices of WPP Group’s Kinetic USA during Advertising Week, Nathan Tan, Cadillac’s associate director of brand partnerships & experiences, noted that Cadillac House was largely intended to appeal to Millennial car buyers’ sense of design. In a sense, even auto brands need to capture the retail qualities that attract consumers into the Apple Store.

And in that same vein, Cadillac House’s influence will be felt down at the dealership level, Tan told GeoMarketing. In an overarching sense, Cadillac House is about developing a global brand identity. The next step comes in translating that to the local level in a way that makes sense for both SoHo and Main Street.

“Obviously, car dealerships are owned and operated, so to the extent that we can create that consistency down to the point of sale, it’s an important process to manage,” Tan said. “The bottom line is that the customer doesn’t differentiate between a franchise-owned dealership and corporately-owned entity like Cadillac House. And there are definitely plans in place to work with our dealers to ensure that brand consistency is maintained.”

Cadillac House 3While Tan said that he couldn’t talk about how Cadillac House would reflect and impact the company’s digital marketing efforts, he said there was bound to be a unified look and feel its interactive approach as well as to its physical branding.

“As we aim to create a world-class customer experience benchmarked against the best in luxury,” Tan said, “the dealerships play a huge role in shaping that message to the consumer. And everything we do ultimately comes down to that.”