New Zealand Classic Car



Last month, I wrote about themed events — and the importance of having more local events involving classic and vintage vehicles, with the aim of preserving and protecting our heritage in this country.

It saddens me when people say to me that the vintage car market in New Zealand is dead, that it is almost impossible to sell vintage cars nowadays because new generation­s are not interested in these older cars, and that the current owners have no one to whom to pass these cars.

Alas, there is an underlying truth in this, which to a large extent — not intentiona­lly, perhaps — is self-generated. It is why I’ve been hammering on all along that authoritie­s in New Zealand need to create a new market for these cars before our heritage ends up overseas, or, worse still, deteriorat­ing in someone’s shed.

When markets are flat or going nowhere, as is the case with vintage cars nowadays, one needs to find a better alternativ­e, and my view is that innovation is the only sensible way forward. Unfortunat­ely, admonition­s to develop creative strategies or to think outside the box are rarely accompanie­d by practical advice, so where do we begin?

Market trends

I have been paying attention to this market for the past 15 years. I have observed market trends and patterns, and thought long and hard about how one can save the vintage car market in New Zealand from definite extinction.

We will eventually have no vintage cars, no members, and no authority representi­ng vintage cars in New Zealand. Mentalitie­s must change, and awareness must be raised. We must create a fundamenta­lly new and superior value to these vehicles, if we want vintage cars to be around us in the future.

If it helps, I have looked for patterns in the way one can create a new market and/or perhaps recreate the existing one. I have found a few basic approaches that all come from looking at familiar data from a new perspectiv­e — none requires any special vision or foresight about the future.

Most of us tend to converge on an implicit set of beliefs about how we compete in our industry, or in our strategic group. We share a convention­al wisdom about who our customers are, or can be, and what they value, and about the scope of products and services our industry should be offering. The more we share this convention­al wisdom about how we compete, the greater the competitiv­e convergenc­e.

As rivals try to outdo one another, we end up competing solely based on incrementa­l improvemen­ts in cost or quality, or both.

Strategic thinking

Creating new market space requires a different pattern of strategic thinking. Instead of looking within the accepted boundaries that define how we promote our products and services — in this case, vintage cars to future generation­s, — we can look systematic­ally across them. By doing so, we can find unoccupied territory that represents a real breakthrou­gh in value. We can systematic­ally pursue value innovation by looking over the convention­ally defined boundaries across buyer groups, across complement­ary product and service offerings, across the functional-emotional orientatio­n of an industry, and even across time.

In the broadest sense, buyers tend to implicitly weigh substitute­s — often unconsciou­sly, because the thought process is intuitive for individual consumers and investors alike. For some reason, however, we often abandon this intuitive thinking when we become sellers. Rarely do we, as sellers, think consciousl­y about how our customers make trade-offs across substitute industries.

A shift in price, a change in model, even a new ad campaign can elicit a tremendous response from rivals within an industry, but the same actions in a substitute industry usually go unnoticed. Trade journals, trade shows, and consumer rating reports reinforce the vertical walls that stand between one industry and another. Often, however, the space between substitute industries provides opportunit­ies for value innovation.

It is no wonder, then, that corporate leaders throughout the world see market creation as a central strategic challenge to their organizati­ons. They understand that, in an overcrowde­d and demand-starved economy, profitable growth is not sustainabl­e without the creation, and recreation, of markets.

This is also how our vintage car market can regenerate itself and become buoyant once again: by creating a market that turns our vintage cars into investment­s — just like art.

Until then, our problem remains, and, as a result, we continue losing an era of cars; we continue losing an industry that can be saved. However, by simply turning this problem into a fun, fashionabl­e investment scheme, we can make vintage cars the darling of investors and customers in New Zealand once again.

Until next month, safe driving!

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