Famous for its roadside assistance, the NRMA is preparing for a future where cars never breakdown.

In 1920, the NSW branch of the National Roads Association (NRA) was born and in 1923 became the National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA), the following year the NRMA Patrol service began, building a reputation for reliable service that persists today. However, these days the member organisation doesn’t have the cut through with under the 40s that it once did.

“It’s fair to say we’ve had less impact with people under the age of 40 and it’s actually creeping up to 45 now,” Jana Kotatko, General Manager, Marketing at NRMA said during a media roundtable hosted by Oracle in Sydney this week.

The NRMA will also have to stay relevant as car ownership declines and ridesharing services and autonomous vehicles become mainstream.

“It’s not lost on us, cars are getting pretty reliable. If you buy a new Tesla that thing ain’t ever going to break down. So, what does the future look like?” Kotatko said.

Kotatko said the NRMA, under new executive leadership, is shifting its focus from the car to mobility and exploring opportunities in telematics relaying information from vehicles.

“We are moving into a world where mobility and getting from A to B is still very important, but actual car ownership might be less relevant in the future. That move into mobility, which sounds like just a nuance is actually a very big step,” Kotatko said.

Kotatko said the NRMA is leveraging its ties with government to make sure it is part of the conversation around regulation in the ride sharing space.

“That will involve acquisitions, new lines of businesses. We will be looking at parking, ride sharing and a whole bunch of other new things. For us to be able to move with agility, whether that’s through an acquisition or starting up a new business or investing in a scale-up, quickly integrating that into our heritage business, that’s going to become a mandate in the near future as well.”

It’s a story the NRMA is just beginning to tell, starting with its AGM next month, which underscores Kotatko’s broader marketing challenge: connecting with a new generation without alienating the 50+ year member.

Marketing transformation

Kotatko joined the NRMA 18 months ago with a mandate to transform the marketing department.

“My observation 18 months ago was this was a business that was very, very traditional and very much rooted in the past. There are some lovely things that come with that, a good old fashioned ethos of service that has been maintained for 96 years along with this incredible desire to send letters to everyone about five times a year,” she said.

Kotatko saw the opportunity to do more with the data they had and open up new channels of communications with different customer segments. Four weeks ago the NRMA went live with the Oracle marketing cloud.

“Whilst we have a slightly older, ageing population with our membership base, they are embracing digital technology as quickly as any other part of our membership base. So it seemed obvious for us to put some sort of platform in place and transform the way we do our marketing,” Kotatko said.

The platform will allow the NRMA to communicate relevant information to its long serving members while also being able to target the young family who has just had a baby with a different message and product offering.

“For us it is less about being focused on the underlying technology and more about being able to create campaigns that resonate with our various target segments,” she said. “The cloud allows us to achieve this in ways that previously were not possible.”

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