Earlier this year, the manufacturer launched its collision consumer site, Collision.Honda.com, after years of development and the early reviews are very positive, according to Gary Ledoux, Honda’s Assistant National Manager of Wholesale Parts Marketing.
Last month, the carmaker also launched AirbagAware.Honda.com, a site the company created in response to the burgeoning problem associated with the proliferation of counterfeit airbags on the market.
After polling its customers and getting their feedback through several focus groups, Honda saw a need for both new websites, Ledoux said.
“We conducted several focus groups in 2009, and we learned some very interesting things. The average consumer knows that their car gets wrinkled up, they take it to the body shop and a few days later they get it back and it’s straight and shiny again, but they have absolutely no idea what goes on in the background. So, one of the main things that we cover on Collision.Honda.com is an in-depth look into the collision industry from the consumer’s perspective,” Ledoux said.
Another need for education about parts became apparent through their focus groups, Ledoux said.
“We learned that most people do not know that aftermarket parts could be installed when their cars are being repaired at a body shop or collision center. They understand that aftermarket parts are used in the mechanical world, because they drive by the parts stores every day, but they’re not aware that aftermarket parts exist in the collision industry. In the past, they assumed that OE parts were being used in their cars. They didn’t realize there was an alternative. When we explained this fact to the people in our focus groups, some of them were visibly upset, because they all thought they were getting OE parts.”
In the past, Honda created collateral pieces to convey important messages to its owners, but now they’re embracing the Internet to achieve the same thing, Ledoux said.
“Years ago, we created a brochure called “What to Do When You Get in an Accident”, designed for new owners of Hondas or Acuras. We put them in every car we manufactured, and did it for several years. It cost a lot of money to produce them and when we conducted a survey, we found out that most of these brochures died a slow death in the bottom of peoples’ glove boxes. So, we decided to put the information online, so that people could access it quickly and easily.”
The Accident Assistant section of the site deals with what to do after an accident, and the section titled Collision 101 focuses on factors and issues drivers can and should deal with before an accident takes place, Ledoux explained. “Collision 101 is a primer on how to deal with body shops, by providing a glimpse into the industry from a consumer’s perspective. It’s a very thorough approach with a ton of value-added features.”
The website includes pages that deal with repairs, parts, insurance relationships (DRPs), safety tips, a shop locator, a collision glossary (that goes from Accident Forgiveness all the way to Waterborne Paint), news, views and a special section that features Honda’s position statements can be found in the Collision 101 section. Honda has included a series of position papers on Collision.Honda.com as well.
“We didn’t know what the response would be to the position papers, but it’s been exceptional,” Ledoux said. “They deal with all of the topics that people are concerned about and they want to know our stance on all of them. They deal with subjects like aftermarket vs. OE parts, wheel repairs, safety recalls, structural parts replacement, salvaged and used airbag components and unibody repairs and salvaged/recycled parts. It covers the entire gamut and evidently it’s going to be a very popular part of the site.” In the News, Views and More section, users can access the latest and greatest stories about the collision industry, with a focus on relevance to the consumer, Ledoux said.
“This is an ever-changing section of the site, because we’ll be posting new articles on there all the time. In addition, we have a Hall of Fame page in that section, which consists of stories about people or companies within the collision industry that do good things for other people on a regional basis. That means that only the people in those areas know about it. Our Hall of Fame will bring national attention to these efforts and we want them to get out there, because they deserve the accolades. Also, our Rear View section is going to be a lot of fun, providing historical capsules that relate to the automotive history, as well as the world of collision repair.”
In addition to creating Collision.Honda.com, Honda also recently launched a second consumer-related site, AirbagAware.Honda.com, an effort that became necessary when the carmaker encountered a growing problem associated with counterfeit airbags.
“A few years ago, we began seeing more and more of these counterfeit airbags,” Ledoux explained. “Consumers need to know the facts so they can insist that only OE airbags are used. It’s a life and death situation, so we’re very concerned and want to be proactive in providing valuable information to the public about this controversy.”
AirbagAware.Honda.com launched in mid-December and is full of useful data, including safety advisories provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), useful news about airbags, videos, and documentation that explains the difference between a Honda and a non-Honda airbag.
One of the featured videos appearing on both websites is called “Use Your Melon,” a 30-second commercial that shows exactly what happens to a watermelon when an airbag opens too late. “It’s quite a visual and people have been talking about it since we produced it,” Ledoux said. “It illustrates how crucial airbags are and how things can go wrong if they’re not genuine.”