Honda Personalizes Sites for Car Owners

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American Honda Motor Co. Inc. has opened an online communication channel with its customers through Owner Link, a customer relationship management initiative that offers Honda and Acura car owners access to product information, recall details and service reminders.


"As customers build their Owner Link Web pages and tell us more about the preferences and communicate, we'll be able to market to them information in a very personalized manner," said Suzan Fairchild, senior project leader at American Honda, Torrance, CA.


To register, customers have to offer name, e-mail and mailing addresses, telephone number, a password and, if preferred, opt in for e-mail notifications from American Honda.


Users also offer details about their cars, including make, year, model, color and trim.


The initiative comes a year after smaller Japanese rival Subaru of America Inc. launched My.Subaru.com. This Subaru subsite stores information on the individual car, and conveys product and accessories offers from Subaru and its partners, and tracks maintenance, warranty and service work.


Subaru's online initiative is in line with other foreign brands' intention to use the Internet to converse directly with customers, learn more about them and then ultimately entice them to upgrade models. Other active online players are Land Rover, Nissan, BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota and Saab.


American Honda's Owner Link section on honda2001.com and acura.com has similar features as Subaru's. Also included are owner manuals, dealer locator and contact details, and "Kelley Blue Book" trade-in values.


"The risks of not being online for Honda or anybody that has a customer that wants to be online to manage relationships is that you now have expectations set by people like Subaru or others that are out there," said Walter Schild, CEO of Genex, the online consultancy that handles American Honda work.


Fairchild agreed.


"From our perspective," she said, "the risk would be not delivering on customers' expectations of service online that are relevant to their other experiences, not in the automotive industry, but personalization, one-on-one marketing experiences that they're getting outside of the automotive experience."


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