Projecting What's Next

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

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

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