The automotive industry is undergoing a transformation. Changing consumer behaviors, the accelerated rise of technology-driven trends, and less constrained competition are revolutionizing the capital-intensive, wholesale industry. While automotive executives across the globe are faced with an uncertain future, consumers are taking advantage of a myriad of trends designed to make their lives more flexible and convenient. Let’s explore some of the trends driving this transformational change.
According to key findings from the Deloitte 2018 Global Automotive Consumer Study, consumers are increasingly interested in buying their next car online directly from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). While physical interactions with the vehicle are still important, companies are now offering virtual test drives, 360-degree views of the interior, and exterior walkarounds. Brands like Carvana and Fair are even taking the dealership out of the equation and bringing the experience straight to the consumer. You want to test drive the car? No problem! Visit one of Carvana’s car vending machines and take the vehicle for a spin. Scared of long-term commitments? Fair offers a non-commitment plan that allows consumers to drive their vehicles for as long as you want. When you’re finished, just return the car – no strings attached. You can complete all of this and never interact with a dealer face-to-face. Welcome to the new way to purchase your next vehicle.
Catching a Ride
Consumers today use their vehicles for everything – from commuting to work to taking the whole family on a vacation. But that trend is changing. Consumers are increasingly looking for more flexible options to get them from point A to point B. Vehicle sharing has become an “Uber” easy way for consumers to catch a “Lyft” to their next destination. And for good reason. Travel has never been easier or more seamless. Consumers simply book and pay for their ride on an app, get picked up, and arrive at their destination in style. What could be easier? Companies like Bird are also getting into the market by offering rent-and-go scooters in major cities. Even the “Big 3” are feeling the pinch, which is why Ford is moving to purchase a start-up scooter company called Spin in the hopes of connecting with more consumers and creating a mobility portfolio.
Today, an average person spends more than 280 hours a year behind the wheel of a vehicle according to Wired Brand Lab by Ford. Staying connected to work, family, and friends while on the move is no longer a luxury but an expectation of consumers. Automotive manufacturers understand this and are embedding technology into vehicles to elevate the driving experience. According to McKinsey & Company, connectivity will increasingly allow the car to become a platform for drivers and passengers to use their time in transit to consume novel forms of media and services or dedicate freed-up time to other personal activities. In the future, vehicles will become the ultimate mobile device that controls actions by voice command and is seamlessly integrated with our homes and other personal devices. Brands like Ford, Chevrolet, and GM are no longer auto makers. They are technology, cloud-computing and software experts.
Understanding Consumer Needs and Wants
As these trends demonstrate, the time to transform the automotive industry is upon us. But it is less about a rapid pivot to autonomous, electric mobility and more about transforming the customer experience to one that reflects the experiences consumers already enjoy from a host of other industries. Connecting with the customer and driving long-term loyalty while offering a seamless, omnichannel experience driven by insights and analytics will be essential to long-term growth and profitability. Startek and Aegis partner with nearly 20 automotive brands today to help them connect with consumers in more personal and meaningful ways. We do this in several ways, including conducting diagnostics of the customer experience and mapping the ideal customer journey. By listening to the customer, we help our clients reverse engineer the ideal conversation and help clients better understand the scope, severity, impact, and root cause of customer issues. Using proprietary analytic models, we also provide the insights clients need regarding the customer experience, marketing and branding, innovation and R&D, and sales initiatives to help inform and enhance their business decisions and drive customer experience transformation.
If you want to learn more about designing the ideal conversation with your automotive customers, check out our recent whitepaper.