Marketing took a hit too as the business regrouped. Vroom slashed $3.5 million in marketing costs through the end of May. In April, Vroom went completely dark on TV, before coming back in the middle of May with national TV, Scherr said.
Gearing back up
Having tackled the initial challenges of the pandemic, Vroom is resuming its long-term goal to build its brand.
When Vroom ran its first national TV campaign last year, it focused simply on introducing the idea of buying used cars online. Its 2020 campaign focuses on how the customer experience online is superior to one in person.
The new ad shows a person being accosted by aggressive (and non-socially distanced) circus performers, playing up the feelings of being overwhelmed, intimidated or pressured during a used car-buying experience. In contrast, Vroom offers “contact-free delivery” to your driveway and an online shopping experience.
Scherr doesn’t expect people will buy a car immediately after seeing an ad, and he instead focuses on brand awareness for TV initiatives, as well as actions such as visiting Vroom’s site or becoming a lead.
Most of the car-buying process already happens online – except for the actual purchase.
People often discover Vroom while they’re looking through car search aggregators such as Cars.com, Autotrader or TrueCar, Scherr said. Today, many of those search results connect people with one of the more than 40,000 car dealerships.
But post-pandemic, more of those deals may happen start to finish online, and local car dealers won’t have an edge there. “We don’t view [local car dealers’] efforts to create an ecommerce model as even remotely close to what we are delivering,” Scherr said. “The degree to which people do not want to go spend three to four hours transacting in person at a crowded local dealership has given us a tailwind.”