*See photos in the gallery below
If you want to build your business selling to off-roaders, it’s good advice to take advantage of every opportunity to get out of the shop and onto the trail.
The same goes for journalists.
So it was that 10 industry writers and editors found themselves behind the wheels of modern and classic Jeeps as part of the Omix-ADA Off-Road Experience last month in Georgia.
The pre-SEMA event offered a chance to test the amazing capabilities of several new(er) JK and JL models on Charlie’s Creek Road, revisit the past by motoring Jeep models from the 1950s-’90s through the grounds of the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, and see many of the literally thousands of off-road and 4x4 products available through the company’s Rugged Ridge brand in action.
In between bouncing around switchbacks, forging streams and stopping to take photos at every overlook, the journalists still found time to talk shop. These veteran freelance writers, publishers and bloggers really knew their stuff and—when combined with the knowledgeable, gracious Omix-ADA and Truck Hero staff that led the expeditions and answered every question—there was no way not to learn some things.
Thanks to their combined expertise, here are five points to consider when serving the off-road market:
Know Your Jeep Customers—All Jeepers are not created equal. Henk Van Dongen, Omix-ADA marketing director, explained that Jeep consumers can be separated into three categories—Restorers (mainly interested in CJs and older Jeeps), Cruisers (the largest group, which likes to add utility and appearance accessories); and Off-Roaders (the hardcore crowd). Tailor your offerings and marketing accordingly.
Participation is Key. It’s a Jeep Thing isn’t just a catchphrase, especially among the Off-Roaders mentioned above. This is a group that waves to each other when they pass on the road. Shops need to earn their stripes by participating whenever possible, or at least offering onsite support to those who do. Jeepers know the real thing when they see it.
Join the Clubs. Off-roaders don’t like to go it alone, so working with Jeep clubs is a great entryway into the local 4x4 community. Offer your shop as a place to hold meetings, provide product demo days and/or connect to their trips and events through social media to build your name with this loyal customer base.
Overlanding is a Thing. More and more off-roaders are valuing the journey as much as the destination, traveling the backcountry for days or even weeks at a time. Think rooftop tents, GPRS radios and unique storage solutions that pack a lot into a little.
The JL (& JT) are Ready to Blow Up. With a year under its belt, the Jeep JL Wrangler continues to redefine the market as manufacturers race to introduce their latest accessories. The trickle-down effect is that many pre-owned JKs are hitting the secondary market as Jeep owners choose to upgrade. And just when it seems that things can’t get any crazier, get ready for the splash the Jeep JT Scrambler truck model is expected to make when it hits dealerships sometime in 2019.