Selling cars in the New Normal

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Last week the UK witnessed its first drive-in wedding. A resourceful couple, not wanting to limit their big day to just 15 of their closest family and friends, tied the knot at Braxted Park in Essex, as 250 guests watched the ceremony from their cars on big screens in the grounds. After the ceremony the newlyweds toured the drive-in waving at friends and family from the back of a golf buggy. Guests were given hampers of snacks and hand gel, and could use an app to order food, delivered by waiters to their vehicles.

The car as a connector

The car is now more than just an aid to mobility. Research by McKinsey reveals that a third of consumers value constant access to a private vehicle more than they did before COVID-19, and half say they are open to extending their use of private vehicles beyond traveling in order to connect with the outside world in a safe way, such as for drive-in entertainment – food, theatre, movies, sport and of course now, weddings!

Seeking opportunity

With the role of the car shifting, brands are presented with opportunities to connect with their customers and showcase features that previously hadn’t been a priority. And whilst it is fair to say that car sales aren’t booming, in China last month they reached the same levels achieved prior to the onslaught of the pandemic. Analysts might be predicting a slower recovery in the UK, but that does not mean that there isn’t opportunity for automotive brands.

The power of an engaged customer

As we continue to navigate the shifting sands of Covid-19 the key is to invest and drive value from existing customer relationships.

Intent to buy is still strong, however, the timescales have become much longer. Consequently, it is critical to keep customers engaged. In the automotive industry engaged consumers (those with a strong attachment to the brand) buy more frequently than those that don’t, which is important in order to shorten the purchase cycle and they are proven to be five times more likely to be brand loyal with their next purchase. Compelling statistics.

What’s the best way to create engagement?

Well for a start, a one-size-fits all communication strategy is not the way forward. But we all know that. Right?

Everything we know about engagement and its role in driving ROI is that relevance is super effective. Experience tells us that this is only the case when it reacts to what someone does, what they’ve done in the past, where they are and when they engage so that we can respond and deliver something valuable in the moment.

This does not have to mean greater budgetary investment.

Instead, it means placing a greater emphasis on Journey Planning, identifying missions and using a combination of 0, 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data to focus investment, service and experience design across Owned, Shared, Earned AND Paid media – all based on a true picture of the modern automotive consumer, where they are, what they need and how they prefer to buy.

Only then is it possible to deliver omnichannel, one-to-one communications that enhance the brand experience and inspire deeper engaged relationships, which in turn will convert into quicker sales.

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