Sector Insight: Automotive – How to Connect with Connected Consumers

Posted by: Line Up on April 19th, 2013 IN Viewpoints

How can you help your dealers connect with connected consumers?

Rob Leach

Over the last 20 years Line Up’s MD Rob Leach has been involved with the launch of over 40 vehicles for 10 manufacturers.  His experience stretches from press launches to coordinated global dealer events and more recently the development of bespoke apps, which provide in-depth product knowledge for dealers. Recently he was asked if today’s connected consumer is the hottest prospect car dealerships have ever had…

The hottest prospect you’ve ever had – or is it?

When a prospective buyer walks into a car showroom these days they are more than likely to have narrowed down their options and done their homework on features, competitor comparisons and price. It almost goes without saying that they’ll already feel some affinity with the brand.  Sounds good so far?  But if all of that is potentially a given, what ‘sells’ a car these days and how can manufacturers and dealers do more to drive consumers to their showrooms and influence the decisions made there to ensure that the car is ultimately bought from them?

iPad wins gadget awards

The connected car buyer

When considering a new car purchase a potential buyer might go to a manufacturer’s website but you can be sure they won’t stop there.  Online car magazines and reviews offer bountiful knowledge and the impact of social media cannot be underestimated.  This film from The Toyota Knowledge Centre is a nice reminder of the impact of peer group endorsement on today’s consumer. It demonstrates that it does not only affect the choice of vehicle but also the purchasing process.

What steps can you take to ensure that your dealers engage effectively with the connected consumer?

Getting under the skin of the consumer

Lifestyle is an overused and hackneyed term when it comes to talking about consumers.  But personal ‘interests’ are a key driver when it comes to car purchase and arming dealers with insights on the ‘interest-triggers’ of target consumers is vitally important.  The more engaging these ‘mindset portraits’ can be, the more dealers are likely to use them and translate what they learn into useful sales stories that will appeal.  This can mean the difference between trying to sell the features of a vehicle versus selling the benefits of those features in a way that will be meaningful.

Selling the ownership experience

Buying a car is clearly not just about ownership of the vehicle – it is about the experience that the ownership delivers in each and every way.  Dealers must be armed to ‘sell’ the brand as a cradle to grave experience, expounding the benefits of their aftersales promise, again, in a way that will appeal to that specific consumer mindset.  A courtesy car during a service might mean everything to one customer whilst a personal and knowledgeable service debrief could be a deal maker for another, making their service spend seem worthwhile.

Continually sharing content with dealers that keeps this kind of information front of mind is vital and a platform that enables this could also be used to drive loyalty.  Dealers could be kept up to speed with new thoughts and ideas on driving days or family days – shared experiences that keep existing owners engaged with the brand.

The relationship between dealer and consumer can no longer be transactional, it needs to be a genuine relationship, a continuous dialogue, or an existing customer could easily become an ex-customer.  Arming dealers with inspiration and ideas to implement on a local basis is key to keeping this conversation going.

Arming dealers

‘Arming dealers’ has been the key theme of this piece and technology and content sharing mean that it has never been easier for manufacturers to provide engaging information with dealers when they need it.  Digital toolkits or apps that can be regularly updated to incorporate new models or specifications are the perfect platform.  Using a tablet or any mobile device, dealers across the globe can then have access to assets that bring the consumer to life for the dealer and the car to life for the consumer.

The scrapping of block exemption in Europe this June will give consumers even more choice when it comes to the buying process.  Traditional dealerships will face increasing competition and price cutting, not just from existing challengers such as internet dealers but from retailers moving into the market for the first time under the new rules.  Consumers will be able to shop around more than ever before and competition will cease to be local but may come from across Europe.  Understanding your consumer and their interest, needs, lifestyle and motivations will be more important than ever – this is where manufacturers and dealers working together will make a huge difference.

Line Up

Line Up

Line Up is an award-winning, creative communications agency, headquartered in London. We create engaging live and digital brand experiences for internal and external audiences all over the world.

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