Dearborn, Mich. -Ford said its 30-day
trial with Best Buy to educate consumers about Sync
radios resulted in almost 4,000 demos and clinics, but Ford is still
debating whether to roll out the program nationally.
The test trial paired Ford dealers in Dallas with 30 local Best Buy locations. The Ford dealers referred customers to Best
Buy that wanted to learn more about Ford’s Sync radios that offer such complex
features as streaming music over Bluetooth from a phone and delivering
traffic updates using the phone’s wireless connection.
Ford called the trial “extremely successful,” according to Andrew
Rebhun, cross vehicle alliances manager, but said the car maker is evaluating
whether to expand the program on a national scale due to budget restraints.
“The short lag time between the conclusion of the test pilot and
national rollout is about resource allocation and coordination with local
parties,” said Rebhun.
However, some Ford dealers are acting on their own, and setting
up local trials with nearby Best Buy stores rather than wait for the national
roll out. This is occurring in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania;
and Duarte and North Hills, California,
During the Dallas
trail, consumers who already own a Ford with a Sync radio could come in for a
lesson on how to use all its features or consumers considering buying a car
could get a demo on cars supplied by Ford and parked at Best Buy.
Best Buy, in turn, educated Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers on
which phones work with Sync radios.
Ford claims 80 percent of participating consumers – who were not
current Ford owners– said that the demos improved their opinion of Ford and a
further 70 percent said they are more likely to consider purchasing a Ford in
the future as a result of the demo.
For Best Buy, the pilot acted as a traffic generator, bringing in
more than 1,600 customers in the Dallas,
Fort Worth and West Texas area. Prior to the clinics, 36 percent of customers
said they would consider a phone purchase from Best Buy Mobile. After the
clinics, that number jumped to 72 percent, said Ford.
Prior to the clinics, only 28 percent of Ford owners knew how to
use most of the Sync features, but after the clinics that figure jumped to 69
percent. Also 36 percent of Ford owners said they consider the hands-free phone
capabilities one of the best Sync features.
Shawn Score, president of Best Buy Mobile said, “The success of
the pilot program in Texas
and the organic developing of relationships between our stores and Ford
dealerships across the country are tremendous proof points that consumers are
hungry for support and guidance in getting the most out of their increasingly
Ford is also working with Best Buy at the Los Angeles Auto Show
in December where Best Buy will man a booth and perform phone checks for Sync
radios, said Ford.
When asked if Ford might
work with other consumer electronics retailers, Rebhun said Ford has an
exclusive arrangement with Best Buy for the next two years