From connected phone applications and Apple CarPlay to 360º cameras, the automotive industry has seen some amazing technological advancements in recent years. Yet, despite all of the innovation happening to the cars themselves, the auto-buying experience has remained largely the same. While brands in other sectors have made great strides to offer fast, seamless purchase experiences, buying a car can be a fractured experience from the online discovery phase to in-person at the dealership.
With consumers having heightened expectations for the brands that they love, this is a problem that car manufacturers and dealerships must solve. Here, we take a look at three ways that the auto industry is evolving in order to appeal to modern shoppers and retain lifelong loyalists.
Online and On Social
According to PSFK, car buyers spend 61% of their time researching and shopping for cars online, while only 21% of their time is spent at the dealership where they ultimately purchase the vehicle. It makes sense; buying a car is one of the biggest and most complicated decisions that consumers have to make, and the internet offers a variety of resources that allow us to vet options before going to dealerships with a short list.
Knowing that consumers like to do most of the purchase process online, sites like Cars.com are stepping in to help. The auto classification site created a tool for the modern car shopper called the “Matchmaker Quiz,” which asks consumers a number of questions about what they want out of their vehicle and then presents them with options that they can like or dislike – not unlike Tinder.
Social media plays a role in the auto-buying experience, as well, with 54% of consumers stating that social media was the most helpful online source to determine their dealership selection. Whether it’s being able to schedule a test drive with a tweet or getting personalized offers from local dealerships that are based on established preferences, social media can be an excellent tool for brands to win over consumers during the purchase process.
From the Dealership to Your Door
Sixty-three percent of respondents to a PwC survey stated that they would buy a car directly online from the manufacturer, with 30% indicating they would even do so without taking a test drive. While those sentiments are hardly universal, it does speak to the fact that – in a world where one hundred million people subscribe to Amazon Prime – consumers are increasingly willing to make big purchases on their computer or phone. So, what is it that drives consumers to the web beyond pure convenience? Sixty-two percent said that the availability of the exact vehicle they want is most important, while 50% cite the avoidance of a sales pitch.
Platforms like Carvana are a potential answer for these consumers. This digital marketplace for the purchase and sale of used cars allows buyers to search through a number of filters, see the vehicle history report, finance and complete paperwork online, and have the car delivered right to their door as soon as the next day. The streamlining of financing and paperwork is an aspect to keep an eye on going forward; car buyers spend an average of an hour and a half on paperwork at the dealership, with 55% declaring they’re dissatisfied with how long the process takes.
Many consumers – especially those in urban environments, where the U.S. population is becoming increasingly concentrated – are more interested in access to a vehicle rather than ownership. As such, there’s an opportunity for brands to offer subscription services to consumers that include vehicle access, insurance, and maintenance – all for a consistent monthly fee. After all, there’s currently a white space that exists in the world between rentals and buying or leasing, and nearly half of consumers say they would consider using a subscription service for cars, trucks, or vans. A study from Technavio indicates that immense growth is on the horizon, too, with an expected compound annual growth of 71% from 2018-2022.
One such example of these services comes from a German startup called Cluno. The service allows customers to subscribe to a car for a monthly fee that includes all costs except for gas. Though there is a minimum six-month subscription at this time, consumers are able to swap vehicles after three months via the Cluno mobile app.
Is your brand looking to reach the modern car buyer? Contact us today to learn how our suite of experiential-led marketing services can help you get a leg up on the competition.
Source: PSFK The Automotive CX Debrief, Driving a New Vision For Direct-to-Consumer Sales 2019