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The car company that pays you to buy from its rivals

Wearnes is putting its money where its mouth is by paying people who test drive an Infiniti, and for buying cars from its competitors.

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Mr Tan said that Wearnes is issuing an open challenge because the company considers the QX50 the best car in its class.

Singapore

SELLING luxury cars can be hard work, but one dealer is offering potential customers some easy money.

Any car owner who test drives an Infiniti QX50 will pick up S$50 in shopping vouchers, and an additional S$1,000 if they go on to buy the car. But there is a twist: If the customer decides to buy a car from a competitor instead, Wearnes Automotive will fork over S$500.

That is a measure of the confidence that Wearnes has in the powerful, mid-sized sport utility vehicle.

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"The reason we came up with this challenge is that we launched this car close to two months ago, and customers who came in and drove the car gave it relatively good reviews," said Sebastian Tan, general manager, Infiniti, Wearnes Automotive. "So we were thinking, how do we ride that wave of customers giving good feedback?"

Together with his marketing team, Mr Tan came up with the QX50 Test Drive Challenge.

Another way to look at the promotion? Infiniti is done with being the coy underdog of the luxury car world.

Mercedes-Benz leads the premium car pack here, with 7,122 units registered in Singapore last year, during which time Infiniti put just 224 cars on the road.

One reason for that gap could be that Infiniti is pitched as something of a "bold challenger" in the market. The upshot of that? While a potential BMW or Lexus buyer might know what to expect, one has to test drive an Infiniti to discover its strengths.

The S$50 carrot is meant to entice people to do just that, and Mr Tan said that simply getting more people to try the QX50 would be a good outcome. "We're not so concerned about whether we sell that next car. Of course, we run a business so we do want to sell, but we want people to really, truly experience the car, and experience the brand."

The QX50 in particular, he said, tends to surprise people with its performance. It has a powerful turbocharged engine that The Business Times called "groundbreaking" in its review a fortnight ago.

Wearnes has a clear list of rivals for the QX50, which starts at S$179,800 (inclusive of Certificate Of Entitlement). The company will hand over S$500 in shopping vouchers to anyone who test drives the Infiniti but goes on to buy an Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI, BMW X3 sDrive20i, Lexus RX 300, Mercedes-Benz GLC 200 or Volvo XC60 T5 between now and the end of April.

Sly customers could abuse the promotion, say, by testing the Infiniti even after having made up their minds to buy a rival car. But Mr Tan said that Wearnes is issuing an open challenge because the company considers the QX50 the best car in its class. "At the end of the day, we're confident that it's a good product," he said.

Getting more people to drive its cars may be good for word-of-mouth marketing, but Infiniti is also putting its money where its mouth is.