24 June 2019

Clicks and mortar - a fine balance for tomorrow's car buyers

Whilst the majority of car buyers – nearly 90% – still find OEM websites essential to the research process when buying a vehicle, their expectations have changed dramatically in recent years as they expect more of an experience vs a sales pitch. Customers need to feel that manufacturers are aiming to meet their research needs through whatever channel they choose at any given moment, facilitating their demands by providing useful tools and data way beyond that of simple brochureware.

The number of dealerships in Europe has fallen by 15%* in the past five years, combined with the fact that 35% of customers saying they’d consider buying a car online means additional importance is placed on forensic digital strategy, content and communications; especially as eCommerce starts to fundamentally change the business model of the sector. As a case in point, half a million cars were sold on eBay last year.

It’s something of a paradox then, that 85% of drivers still see dealers as vital touch-points during the decision-making process and expect to test drive a vehicle before making a final commitment. The conclusion being that manufacturers must understand and adjust their business models in sympathy with these behaviours rather than moving sharply away from traditional sales and marketing methods.

This is where technology and data come into their own. Automotive brands need to learn more about the nuances of their customers’ habits and intelligently interpret the results to reduce friction in the buying process, such as enhanced personalisation, fully optimised social and mobile experiences and experimentation with purchase options, all of which can be measured and validated.

By innovating on a daily basis, Brandwidth help established manufacturers to head off disruption at the pass and react to market dynamics in a way that attracts a new generation of drivers without alienating their existing loyal base. In practical terms, the form this takes will be hundreds – if not thousands – of incremental improvements that positively enhance digital experiences to move the needle the right direction for auto brands in the years ahead.

*Source: McKinsey & Company (2018)