Do manufacturers, Dealers or service providers know what 60% of new car buyers want?

emarketer recently published a very interesting article on the importance and impact in-media will have on buyers purchase decisions. According to a Harris Interactive poll nearly 60% of car owners said in-car connectivity will have some or a great deal of influence on their next vehicle purchase and 67% for 18 to 35 year olds!

This range of in-car connectivity, also referred to as telematics, ranges from the expected  maps, music and voice communications, to browsing the internet and watching streaming video.  Interestingly, services that read news updates, permit social media interaction or deliver on-demand content already exist. Will this evolution in telematics lead to design innovation.  A single point for plug and play for multiple devices, where one could possibly use their tablet as a dashboard?

As these advanced in-car media options become increasingly important I imagine there will be a foray of new providers in the value chain to deliver these advanced media options.  Owning and managing data will become paramount especially as marketing pathways to influencing customers will evolve.  It will be interesting as to who ‘owns’ the customer relationship as boundaries become blurred; the OEM, the Dealer, the media provider or other Tier 3 service providers.  The question does arise as to whether brands with better relationships with their Dealers will have an advantage because of the assumed sharing of information and data?  Will OEMs become selective in choosing their 3rd party suppliers especially those who work with their Dealernetwork with the additional Tier 1 services they provide their Dealernetwork providing valuable data intelligence and influence?

These changes are not far off but in the short term there is a significant amount that can be done to improve the customer digital experience; from optimised OEM websites with car configurators that provide an enhanced user experience to Dealer Marketing Websites which provide a consistent brand and user experience to the OEM whilst still providing differentiation for the Dealer.  A recent project I was involved in required a review of user experience of luxury OEM manufacturer and dealer websites and the results were shocking with the majority showing they provided average to poor user experience.  Not really acceptable in this post-PC era.  Sadly, most also used responsive design as a band aid to an optimised mobile experience.      A well optimised website is the hub for developing an effective digital experience integrating across all channels.

Need some advice in creating or enhancing your digital strategy?

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2011 Top 3 selling cars: Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Corsa

SMMT released 2011 car registration details today.  According to the figures 2011 new car registrations fell 4.4%, however the 1.94 million units was slightly ahead of the 1.92 million forecast.

2011 Top 3 marques were Ford Fiesta 96,112 units sold, Ford Focus with 81,832 units sold and Vauxhall Corsa 77,751 units sold.

“Last year proved to be a challenging year for the UK motor industry,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive. “Weak economic growth will make trading conditions tough in 2012, but record numbers of new and updated models, significantly improved fuel efficiency and exciting new technologies will help to encourage consumers into showrooms.”

Whilst it’s evident 2012 will see tougher trading conditions, there are definite opportunities for Dealer Groups to get consumers into their showrooms starting with the online showrooms where their research begins!  Consider your mobile strategy, as we know mobile retail is continuing to grow, according to Comscore datagems 1.7million mobile subscribers consumed automotive content on mobile devices.

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How “Pollinators” change the marketing equation for Land Rover

Martini Media partnered with WPP’s research group, Added Value, to take a closer look at the influencer audience who comprises 25% of the population and is responsible for 70% of the spending online.

This video with an array of panelists includes Land Rover’s Communication Manager Ken Bracht.  Ken highlights the importance of luxury automotive brands reaching niche audiences through targeted marketing and why it is important to target these pollinators as part of their core media plan.  These “hyper influentials” not only become effective brand evanglists but are first in line for big-ticket items.  In the study 68% of Pollinators indicated purchase intent for luxury cars.

Technology is ubiquitous allowing marketers to effectively and effeciently reach their audience.  Brands need to be exploring ways to reach influencer audiences in social communities to improve engagement, brand awareness and lower cost per lead.  You can see how effective and measurable this channel can be for new vehicle launches.

http://vimeo.com/26596212

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Which online channels influence car buyers purchase decisions?

Over the recent Christmas break I was keen to find some new Portuguese restaurants in the South West, so naturally I resorted to social media for my research. In less than an hour I had several tweets with recommendations and a quick search online showed they all had great customer reviews. Result: the restaurant made some new patrons through social word of mouth!

The process is no different for high risk purchases.  Mashable recently published  an article with data from M Booth and Beyond, high recommmenders, those that make purchase less frequently, purchases more expense and/or research requires more time and effort in the research, are 3 times more likely to recommend a product.

Data from M Booth and Beyond survey show top online channels that influence purchase decisions across various sectors.  44% of car buyers use car forums for their research.  The top  influencing channels for car buyers are branded websites, search results and online advertisements.

With this insight and knowledge of how the social consumer is influenced in their purchase decisions Automotive Dealerships and manufacturers should be investing in the following channel to increase their traffic and leads;

  • web and mobile search optimisation
  • monitoring what customers, influencers and opinion leaders are saying about vehicle performance
  • Dealer websites provide customers with a consistent manufacturer brand experience
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An Automotive View on Mary Porta’s Retail Review

My Guest blog for Mobile Web recently featured on Carnival of the Mobilists #255 Outstanding blog short list.5 retail recommendations for automotive from Mary Porta’s Retail review

The blog focuses on the influence mobile has had on consumer buying behaviour which has and is transforming the retail landscape.  There are five recommendations on how the Dealerships in automotive industry can develop their mobile retail channel.

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