Auto Supplier Faurecia Delves Into Social Media Marketing

7/24/12Follow @XconomyDET

French auto supplier Faurecia, which has its North American base of operations in Auburn Hills, MI, is taking a page out of the social media marketing playbook that has served its automaker clients so well. Last week, the company announced a new car interior-design contest open to Pinterest users. It represents one of the fist big, public forays into social media on the part of an auto supplier.

“We have a unique relationship with end users,” says Jay Hutchins, Faurecia North America’s director of marketing and product planning. “They buy from our clients, but we normally don’t interact with them. This project is a way for us to expand our presence on social media and to get inspiration to see what people want in the next generation of auto interiors.”

The contest asks participants to submit a pinboard titled “Faurecia Pin-spiration” categorized on Pinterest under “Cars and Motorcycles.” Each pin should be tagged with the name of the contest and include a caption explaining how the image could be used to shape vehicle design. A panel of Faurecia designers will judge the entries for creativity and ideas that could be applied to an actual car interior; contestants should email a URL of their pinboards to Faurecia NA@faurecia.com by July 31. “This is our firsts venture with Pinterest and we’ve already gotten a few submissions after only a couple of days,” Hutchins adds.

Mining non-traditional sources for innovative ideas, whether it’s Ford setting up a lab in close proximity to Silicon Valley startups, or Faurecia reaching out to the Pinterest community, seems to be a growing trend in the auto industry. Hutchins says soliciting design ideas on social media allows Faurecia to get a sense of consumers’ unmet needs when it comes to the interiors of automobiles.

Faurecia’s Pinterest contest taps into another big consumer desire fueled by social media—the ability to differentiate oneself from the crowd. “A big trend right now is unique decoration,” Hutchins explains. “It used to be the traditional color schemes of car interiors were gray, black, and tan. Now we’re seeing OEMs looking for more dramatic colors because they want to bring more of the consumer’s personality into the vehicles.”

Faurecia is the world’s sixth-largest auto supplier. It has facilities across Michigan, including technical centers in Auburn Hills, Holland, and Troy, and manufacturing centers in Fraser  and Saline for a total workforce of about 2,000. It makes interiors for the Chevy Malibu, Ford Fiesta, and Fiat 500, among others.

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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