Cadillac dealers have asked the brand to boost its marketing efforts to help them weather an 18-month period with no major product launches, the head of the Cadillac National Dealer Council said.
"Marketing is going to have to play a bigger role in creating awareness, excitement and consideration for the brand. Because it won't be a new vehicle that brings people in," said Will Churchill, the council's chairman and dealer principal at Frank Kent Cadillac in Fort Worth, Texas.
Churchill said brand execs understand that well. "They're working on some really great creative and a new way to take the brand, realizing that's the situation," he said. "So they're being responsive to that request and desire."
Cadillac's "Dare Greatly" campaign, which started almost two years ago, has earned mixed reviews. The brand lost share in the luxury market in both 2015 and 2016, despite expanding its lineup with several new nameplates in recent years.
Cadillac has more new products on the way, starting in mid-2018, including the XT3 and XT7 crossovers, but the only changes expected in 2017 are a re-engineering of the Escalade and the addition of a CT6 plug-in hybrid. Neither is likely to generate a significant sales increase, with most dealers expecting to sell only one or two of the CT6 plug-ins each month, Churchill said.
"It's going to be a great car -- it's going to be awesome -- but it's not going to be a volume seller," he said. "I don't think Cadillac has huge volume aspirations for it either."
He said he hopes it will at least help the brand retain customers looking for an alternative propulsion system.
In addition to marketing, dealers see stronger leasing as key to revitalizing the brand, Churchill said. The council hopes to improve long-term loyalty by helping dealers get more of their customers to re-up leases before they get to the point of shopping around with competitors.
"If a customer gets to maturity on a lease, then we've failed," Churchill said. "The other manufacturers, when you're 90 days out, they take you out of market and you're in another one."