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GM's Money Back Promotion is On the Money

Almost two weeks into its campaign offering buyers of GM vehicles their money back if they are not satisfied, Bob Lutz likes what he is seeing.

In fact, the Vice-Chairman is so confident the program will work, he is predicting fewer than 1% of those who buy a Chevy, Buick, Cadillac and GMC under this promotion will ask for their money back. Friday morning on Squawk Box Lutz told me, "I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say it will be way under 1% (who ask for their money back)."

Lutz says the program is doing exactly what GM wanted: increasing the percentage of buyers willing to consider a Chevy, Cadillac, Buick or GMC.

Does that mean the money back offer is a home run promotion?

I'm not so sure.

But given how far GM has to go in terms of changing the perception of buyers, there is no doubt it is at least a single or double.

According to Lutz and others who track buyer consideration, the percentage of people willing to at least look at a GM model is up 14-17%. The biggest increase was right after GM launched the program with TV spots featuring Chairman Ed Whitacre. Whitacre said GM is so confident people will like its cars, trucks and SUVs; the automaker is putting its money where its mouth is. Lutz believes that offer has helped the company make inroads with thousands of undecided car buyers. He says, "It is precisely in this undecided vote that we are up anywhere between 14 and 17 percent and we have also had over one million visits to the 60 day satisfaction guarantee Web site. So as far as we can tell and what the dealers are reporting and so forth it is having exactly the effect that we wanted."

But how much is the program actually moving the needle at Chevy, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC?

According to Edmunds.com, the percentage of people checking out 3 of the four brands has in fact picked up.

Buyer Interest at Edmunds.com

Sept. 6
Sept. 20
Buick 1.4% 1.3%
Cadillac 2.5% 2.6%
Chevy 10.0% 11.4%
GMC 2.6% 3.1%
Edmunds.com

Edmunds CEO Jeremy Anwyl says GMs newest models (Chevy Malibu, Chevy Equinox, etc) are doing the best job at changing perceptions with buyers. This is why Anwyl believes GMs campaign is one worth continuing, "I think GM has to continue to market along those lines, basically challenge people to give them a shot, and hopefully they will like what they see."

Admittedly, no automaker can change its image with buyers in just two weeks. Heck, when the first Chrysler commercials featuring Lee Iacocca came out as he tried to turn around the company, many in the press scoffed. Eventually, those ads were seen as a stroke of genius. But it took a while for them to gain traction with car buyers. GM is in a similar, though far less dire situation. As Lutz is quick to point out, changing perceptions is a long process, and this is just one step.

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