What does the future of automotive marketing look like? | DMA

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What does the future of automotive marketing look like?


In thirteen years’ time you won’t own anything. You won’t own the house you live in, you won’t own the appliances you use, and you won’t own the car that you drive. At least that’s the vision of our future according to the World Economic Forum.

But it’s not all as doom and gloom as it sounds because they suggest that the move away from ownership to ‘access’ will actually make us happier than ever.

Arguably, this notion is already in motion. Most of us, except for the odd veritable luddite (myself included!) have stopped buying CDs and DVDs, opting for more ‘on-demand’ services such as Spotify and Netflix, and research suggests that this subscription model will also disrupt the way that we own vehicles.

It’s no secret that the percentage of new vehicles sold to 18-34 year olds has significantly dropped over the past few years, and studies suggest there is now a generation of young people who have little-to-no interest in owning a car.

At the start of 2017 Wagonex– a hot new car subscription service- emerged on the scene, claiming to eliminate the lengthy purchase agreements typically associated with car buying by offering drivers an alternative method to car ownership. Their monthly fee covers service, maintenance, insurance and rescue and allows customers to switch cars whenever they choose to.

Similarly, Peugeot ingeniously opened up the young driver market with a finance product called “Just add Fuel with Telematics”- One payment covers everything but fuel- including insurance which is increasingly pricing young people out of purchasing new cars.

So, what’s causing this strange new shift in behaviour (or rather, lack of?) Well, you might be inclined to think that technology is the culprit here.

But technology can only really be viewed as the driver- not the cause. This is because advancements in technology only occur because someone has decided to think differently about the world, and while this may spur on the creation of new tech, it is always ‘new thinking’ that comes first.

To survive in this market, automotive brands need to stop railing against this trend and new way of thinking and start understanding what’s caused this shift in consumer behaviour- and more importantly what they can do to meet their evolving needs.

People don’t buy things, they buy experiences

Nearly 4 in 5 millennials would rather spend money on an “experience” than on buying a product.

People buy things because of what they can do with them, and this connects people to a sense of empowerment. Apple is a great example of how to leverage this- their products help people gain a sense of autonomy and mastery over the world. This doesn’t bode well for traditional auto-manufacturers, who need to figure out the emotional pull beyond the driving itself and sell the experience.

A great example of this is Volvo’s Concept 26- an autonomous prototype car so focused on the in-car experience that Volvo didn’t even bother designing the outside of the vehicle. What Volvo have learnt is that consumers want something bigger and better than just a machine that transports them from one place to another. What they are really looking for is intelligent technology that integrates seamlessly and improves their daily lives.

What next?: Automotive brands need to clearly communicate how their product or service is designed to make the lives of consumers as simple and connected as possible.


People buy things because they want to tell others about it

Oftentimes, the joy of having something isn’t the having, but in the sharing. When we share something we like with others it creates a bond, and this is meaningful. Research suggests that 1 in 4 of us will use social media to comment post-purchase of a new car, with 58% of us posting a comment or status update on social media about the vehicle.

Auto brands need to realise it’s not all about selling, it’s about making people feel connected, and Tesla are a winning example of how to execute this effectively. The innovative company doesn’t only focus on its products, but their brilliant strategy completely takes you on a trip to an advanced future where diesel and petrol are ancient history.

Tesla and its CEO practically share everything with their fans; either via Twitter or the company’s blog. That way, consumers know where to turn to thus creating a loyal community of followers. Tesla not only sell ground-breaking automotive technology, but they also sell a ‘slice of the future’.

What next?: Help connect like-minded people through your business, sales is not about selling anymore but building a community.

People buy things because of what it says about them

People are becoming more socially aware and environmentally conscious than ever before, and brands worldwide are searching for innovative new ways to create something ‘bigger’ than the products they sell.

One of the ways this preference is manifesting is in the millennial generation’s preference for socially responsible marketing and now, more than ever before, consumers are letting their conscience guide their buying choices. ‘Green cars’ are moving into the mainstream, and with Britain set to ban all new petrol and diesel cars from 2040, this consumer trend is set to grow.

What next?: Brands shouldn’t aspire to be saints- after all they are just trying to sell a product, but what’s important is to try and connect to a ‘higher purpose’. Remember that consumers are often looking for something bigger than themselves through your product or service.

Humanity is experiencing an evolution in consciousness and as such we are starting to think differently about what it means to ‘own’ something. Increasingly we are seeing a shift from selling a car as a standalone product to selling it as a connected service. For automotive brands wanting to stay in the fast lane they must demonstrate how their products make consumers lives more simple, ethical and connected.

- Anna Melton, Marketing Manager, Table19

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