Remarking on remarketing

I’ve increasingly noticed the term “remarketing” used in the motor industry as a euphemism for secondhand sales.  This appears to have superceded the terms used, nearly new and previously owned. 

These alternative words are selected to distance the process from the image of the secondhand car salesman, the shifty or The Car Lot in EastEnders.

Much like the debate about whether public relations should be rebranded as reputation management, corporate communications, etc – this seems to me to be looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

The negative perceptions about public relations and secondhand car sales cannot be addressed by a bit of linguistic propaganda.  In fact, this obfuscation makes people wonder more about what is being hidden.  A new lick of paint is not the answer.

Indeed, once people start to talk in such terms, they sound like a contestant on Radio 4’s classic “” – aiming to avoid repetition, hesitation or deviation.

Definitions of remarketing imply this is a strategy aimed at what the  might consider a dog and attempting to make it a cash cow or even a star.

: marketing activity intended to encourage renewed use of a product in which market interest has declined

In car terms remarketing is defined as: the resale of a used vehicle and all of the various services.

What is particularly odd about “remarketing” in the car world is that it means nothing to the outside world.  I cannot imagine anyone ever saying that they have bought a remarketed car – or a previously owned one come to that.

Of course, the industry needs to manage a vibrant market for such vehicles, if it is to stimulate demand for new car sales.  Does “remarketing” make this side of the business sound more important internally?  Is it more about the status of those involved in shifting older metal?

I think “remarketing” is an ugly word that communicates nothing.  Surely the art of selecting an alternative phrase should be that it is an improvement. 

Of course, some older vehicles are considered as , collector models, historic or even vintage.  This gives them an air of exclusivity – and higher market value.

I like the French term: “voiture d’occasion”, which to my English ear sounds so much more special than buying a secondhand or remarketed vehicle.

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

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