The second quarter of 2020 was a tough period for the automotive industry in United States and Canada. New vehicle sales were down year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter due to temporary closure of dealerships or showrooms. While COVID-19 had adversely impacted the automotive industry, it has accelerated the innovation of marketing and business operations. For example, many dealerships started offering mobile test drives where a staff member from a dealership would drop off a test drive vehicle at a customer’s home and the customer could test drive the vehicle for up to 48 hours. While it’s still early to determine whether the new innovative practices will last as the economy is re-opening and shoppers are more comfortable shopping at dealerships, new shopping behaviours and trends have certainly emerged as a result of COVID-19.
Think with Google, a Google-managed website that offers data and marketing research and digital trends reports, has identified five consumer shopping trends in the automotive industry. Check them out!
There’s a rise in consumers’ desire to own their own personal vehicles as public transportation was nearly at complete halt during the pandemic.
A study from Ipsos in early March shows that people in China’s attitudes toward vehicle ownership, public transportation, and mobility solutions like ride hailing have shifted during the pandemic. Usage of personal or private cars nearly doubled after the outbreak, while reliance on public transportation has fallen by more than half, while taxis and ride hailing both saw significant declines in usage.
Same findings were discovered in the United States. 93% of respondents surveyed in the United States said they’re using personal vehicles more. More, a recent Cars.com survey reported that 20% of respondents who didn’t own their own car were considering purchasing one.
Car shoppers want to know if now is the best time to purchase a vehicle. If it is, car shoppers want to know if they can find the best deals.
Search interest for “is it a good time to buy a car” grew more than nine times between January and February of 2020 and March and April of 2020. Savvy car shoppers have increasingly used digital channels such as dealer or automotive websites or social media to compare models and prices.
Search volume for best car deals and truck deals has also grown 70% globally from March 22 – 28, 2020 compared to March 15 – 21 of the same year.
Deals and discounts have emerged as one of the most important, if not the most important, factors in influencing a car purchase. More automakers are offering wondrous incentives such as 0% annual percentage rate, five figure cash discounts or no-penalty payment deferments and car shoppers are looking for the best deal in town!
According to Think with Google’s data, auto shoppers ranked the following activities by preference as ideal alternatives to visiting a dealership:
To capture the attention or provide invaluable vehicle information to prospective auto buyers, dealerships can create 360 degree videos or images or interior and exterior walkaround videos. Video content is particularly useful to grasp car shoppers’ attention since many car shoppers are watching YouTube videos to compare different models or research on specific vehicles.
The entire car shopping journey has slowly become fully digitalized. From researching a car on YouTube to booking a test drive appointment from a dealership website or purchasing or signing lease offers digitally, the entire buying process can be completed online at the comfort of shoppers’ own homes.
According Think with Google’s data, 18% of auto shoppers would buy a vehicle sooner if they could purchase the vehicle they wanted without going to a dealership.
To practice social distancing, many in-person auto shows or large auto conferences have been postponed or cancelled. To adapt to the new environment, many automakers are making radical changes in their event marketing approaches by offering online streams to reveal their new vehicles.
For example, Hyundai unveiled the 2021 Hyundai Elantra using a live steam and generated nearly 800,000 views from the initial tease video, live steam, and walk-around clip.
The automotive industry is facing new challenges and a paradigm shift that will likely alter the industry forever. Auto shoppers have developed increased interests in digital and at-home shopping. Automotive dealerships have satisfy shoppers’ newly formed shopping behaviours by providing services such as mobile test drives and digital transactions and online content such as 360 degree videos of interior and exterior of vehicles.
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