We rebuilt the reputation of America’s leading auto part remanufacturer.

Cardone invented the remanufactured parts industry over 45 years ago. Its brand was built on a legacy of manufacturing first-rate aftermarket auto parts backed by a topnotch warranty. However, in the spring of 2016, Cardone’s reputation was plummeting as an influx of failed parts were arriving under warranty. And the worst part of this situation was that the parts weren’t even made by Cardone: cheap knock-offs sold under false pretenses were destroying the brand’s image.

Market Reality

Cardone initially came to Merit because they were getting part returns from auto repair shops that were not Cardone parts. Turns out—auto part distributors were slowly replacing Cardone parts with lower quality offshore manufactured parts to save profit margin. It was a double whammy for Cardone: not only were they losing sales through distributors, but the end-customer auto repair technicians were returning parts directly to Cardone. In part because Cardone parts were white labeled, technicians thought Cardone parts were failing—even though it was the replaced parts. Cardone needed a way both to raise brand awareness and deepen partnerships with auto technicians while finding a way to sell directly to them.

Market Opportunity

Merit began by conducting field research, remote interviews, and competitive market analysis to identify the needs and motivations of both Cardone’s loyal users and potential customers. We were able to identify some recurring themes, such as skepticism towards remanufactured parts, which Cardone had pioneered, and concerns over Cardone’s quality and availability. And to make things worse, many respondents had no opinion on Cardone: they couldn’t recall hearing the name. Cardone needed to cultivate renewed relationships rooted in transparency, trust and tradition, while at the same time expanding its brand image and reach. They would also need to innovate new distribution channels and methods.

Invention Strategy

In order to effectively cultivate these positive relationships, Merit developed a new go-to-market platform that would reach and train Cardone customers where they already were: in their repair shops, at industry shows, and in vocational schools. We also identified ways Cardone could enhance their digital experience, like scaling up its technical service team, becoming involved in online forums, and revamping its online resource center. In order to streamline distribution, Cardone would focus efforts on marketing directly to consumers instead of relying on the white-labeled boxes of the middlemen.

THE EXPERIENCE

Make the Market

Deepening Relationships

Through strategic deployment and communications planning, Merit partnered with influential customers that already used Cardone parts, increasing brand visibility and loyalty. Cardone further increased brand awareness by sponsoring auto shows and technical training programs.

Make the Market

Expanding Awareness

We created a new go-to-market identity, messaging platform, and customer and digital experience framework, along with a robust media program, to position Cardone as a clear leader in the Americas.

Market Invention Results

Transforming Perceptions

By repositioning the manufacturer as a direct partner and supplier—and a true industry leader— Cardone is rebuilding strong partnerships with auto technicians while educating the next generation of car enthusiasts. A feature on Velocity TV garnered over 70 million impressions, while their ’66 Chevy Chevelle rebuild impressed 165,000 potential customers at the 2017 SEMA show.

1 / 3

X
GET IN TOUCH

The Merit team brings fresh perspective and helps us validate some of our opinions based on research and strategic insights. We value their high quality design and copy writing, frequency of communication, overall pleasantness and the professionalism of the team.”

Raquel Wenger, Director, Advertising & Promotion, CARDONE Industries

RELATED
INSIGHTS

Adam Vasquez

What is Market Invention?

It's the new era of marketing.
Market Invention is the process of creating and maintaining market dominance by leveraging insight, purpose, position, and experience to establish, grow, and maintain customer and company value.

Denise Kohnke
COVID-19 CEO Survey

Back when COVID-19 was in its diabolical toddlerhood, circa May 2020, Merit asked CEOs from a diverse pool of sectors about their perceptions of COVID-19, and how they were tangibly handling its impact. These were not P&G, Google, General Motors CEOs, but CEOs of arguably the most important strata in the U.S. economy: small to medium-sized.

READ IT
Denise Kohnke

CEO Influenza?

If our CEO survey is any indication, the “can-do” spirit is still alive and well. As cultural Venn diagrams representing now and the near future collide – COVID, FLU, ELECTION, BLM – resiliency seems to be many CEO’s medicine du jour.

READ IT
Adam Vasquez
The Confidence Market

Thanks to COVID-19, we're all relearning how to do the things we were once experts at. We’re relearning our relationships and how we interact. We’re relearning how to be a customer, teacher, CEO, marketer, sales executive, investor, ect. And with everything happening so fast, the relearning curve is extra steep.

READ IT
Denise Kohnke

COGNITIVELY COVID: The CEO Guide to Fear

What might be the hardest part of being a leader? The expectation of fearlessness, as in the whole “fearless leader” facade. Crushing, isn’t it?

READ IT
Denise Kohnke

COGNITIVELY COVID: The CEO Guide to Denial

Everyone defaults to denial at some point. It’s the brain’s way of lining up all of our implicit biases and testing them against harsh realities. Ironically, it’s because we’re trying to make sense of things with mental shortcuts. Now, in the time of COVID-19, as we all feel the need to move fast, CEOs might want to be especially mindful of biases, especially the biases that support denial and impede invention during crisis.

Denise Kohnke
COGNITIVELY COVID: The CEO Guide to Acting Fast

You’ve likely heard the term “first movers” in the context of new sector growth. Moving first to take advantage of opportunistic pathways thanks to COVID-19 is almost a new sector unto itself. One website we love, CovidInnovations.com, is a global gathering of hundreds of new products, new apps, new wrinkles to existing services all in the name of the new world.

READ IT
Adam Vasquez

The 10 Truths of the COVID-19 CEO

In the midst of loosening lockdowns and tightening restrictions, dropping infection rates and second waves, CEOs must adjust to new truths in changed industries. During many conversations with my peers, a few of those truths have surfaced time and again.

READ IT
Harrisburg Office
121 Locust Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101
Portland Office
917 SW Oak Street #417, Portland, OR 97205
Washington D.C. Office
2214 Rock Hill Road, Herndon, VA 20170