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Automotive digital trends & innovations


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Since 2015 when think with Google identified the 5 auto shopping moments every brand must own, things have not changed much in the digital path-to-purchase. But, besides the path-to-purchase, in 2017 think with Google also observed that:
• 95% of vehicle buyers use digital as a source of information
• The digital marketing budget of a car dealer should fall between 45% and 75% of the overall marketing budget
• More than 40% of shoppers who watched a video about cars or trucks visited a dealer as a result
The 2018 Car Buyer Journey Study by Cox Automotive found that car buyers spend 61% of the total time spent getting a vehicle researching and shopping online. But in contrast to Google, which states that search is the main influencer in the path-to-purchase, Cox Automotive identifies third-party websites (like Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, as the most used online resources for car shoppers:
Additional data provided by the Bain Global Automotive Consumer Survey 2017 predicts that almost 70% of annual auto sales (about 19 million units, generating $40 billion) will be digitally influenced by 2020

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Automotive digital trends & innovations

  1. 1. Automotive Digital Trends & Innovations Carmelon Digital Marketing | July 2018
  2. 2. Introduction The 2015 Automotive Buyer Influence Study by Autotrader found that the most influential source leading to the dealer is the Internet, followed by non-media referrals, walk-ins, and prior experiences. The same study states that 88% of prospective automobile buyers use the Internet for their research. In 2017, just two years later, think with Google found that 95% of vehicle buyers use digital as a source of information. These statistics were indicative of a disruptive trend, with buyers increasingly aware of digital opportunities available for research, but also for purchases, and for parts, maintenance, and service. This report will look at the digital trends of today, identifying what consumers want, their path-to-purchase, their top digital channels for research and information, and other data that can help sellers quickly identify their audiences and compete using the right tools and strategies.
  3. 3. The digital path-to-purchase Since 2015 when think with Google identified the 5 auto shopping moments every brand must own, things have not changed much in the digital path-to-purchase. But, besides the path-to-purchase, think with Google also observed that: • the average car purchaser makes just two visits to dealerships • six out of ten car shoppers enter the market unsure which car to buy • early research moments are increasingly influenced by video • 69% car shoppers using YouTube are influenced by it— more than TV, newspapers or magazines • car shoppers turn to mobile for research
  4. 4. Further on, in 2017, think with Google observed other significant trends that affect the digital path-to-purchase: • 95% of vehicle buyers use digital as a source of information • 60% of all automotive searches come from a mobile device • The digital marketing budget of a car dealer should fall between 45% and 75% of the overall marketing budget • Local searches on mobile devices are growing 50% faster than mobile searches overall • More than 40% of shoppers who watched a video about cars or trucks visited a dealer as a result 40% 36% 19% 17% THE MODERN DIGITAL CAR SHOPPER IS MAINLY INFLUENCED TO PURCHASE BY SEARCH ENGINES. Search engines Promotion Online ad Online video
  5. 5. Millward Brown Digital had similar findings concerning the digital path-to-purchase of UK buyers, but it also revealed in its study, Navigating the New Path to Purchase, that, although automotive shoppers don’t buy on brand homepages, brand sites matter too because 100% of consumers prefer to visit manufacturer’s website one month prior to purchase: • 85 to 90% of auto shoppers conduct online research • the online research process lasts up to four months • 53% of auto consumers begin the journey on auto review sites • 86% of auto shoppers end their journey on the manufacturer’s site Furthermore, the auto research mainly involves search, social media, and independent reviews, while the majority of brand site traffic comes from review sites. 4 months before purchase • 25% manufacturer website • 31% search • 53% auto reviews sites 3 months before purchase • 26% manufacturer website • 29% search • 50% auto reviews sites 2 months before purchase • 33% manufacturer website • 33% search • 55% auto reviews sites 1 month before purchase • 100% manufacturer website • 70% search • 49% auto reviews sites THE CONSUMER TOUCHPOINT ENGAGEMENT BEFORE AUTO PURCHASE ACTION
  6. 6. Then, in 2017, after surveying over 500 consumers on their automotive buying patterns, Netsertive found that : • 50 % of car shoppers are using mobile devices to conduct their automotive research • yet, 67% visited 1-2 car dealerships before making a purchase • while the 55+ age group represents the largest group of new-vehicle buyers:
  7. 7. In addition, Netsertive found that digital is the key to building influence according to these digital paths to purchase: 45% search engines 44% dealer websites 46% customer reviews The study, however, notes that digital and traditional work together, finding that about 29% of the respondents started their online research after viewing an ad on a traditional media channel. When it comes to devices, Netsertive identified desktop with 70.9 %, mobile with 48%, and tablets with 35.5 %.
  8. 8. The 2018 Car Buyer Journey Study by Cox Automotive found that car buyers spend 61% of the total time spent getting a vehicle researching and shopping online. But in contrast to Google, which states that search is the main influencer in the path-to-purchase, and unlike Netsertive, which states that review websites, dealer sites, and search engines play similar roles in the path-to-purchase, Cox Automotive identifies third- party websites (like Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, as the most used online resources for car shoppers: 23% 52% 82% 44% 56% 67% 29% 53% 78% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% OEM SITES DEALERSHIP 3RD PARTY SITES Sources used to shop Total New Used “While car buyers are using fewer websites (4.7 in 2018 down from 5.5 in 2017) during the shopping process than in prior years, the perceived helpfulness of each website category has not changed. Buyers continue to spend most of their time shopping on third-party sites. Dealer sites and search engines complement each other during the shopping process, and automotive marketers need to have a broad yet integrated marketing strategy, including a strong presence in the online inventory marketplace, to effectively reach and influence shoppers wherever they are shopping online.”
  9. 9. Additional data provided by the Bain Global Automotive Consumer Survey 2017 shows that: Almost 50% of car buyers begin online. Consumers typically switch four times between offline and online channels. With an average of 2.4 dealer visits throughout the buying experience, dealers remain pivotal, but their role is changing. More than 60% of consumers decide on brand, model, and price before visiting a dealership. For more than 40% of consumers, friends and family are the most trusted influencers in car purchases. Offering online purchase is a must, as more than 25% of website visitors are potential customers.
  10. 10. Bain & Company also predicts that: Almost 70% of annual auto sales (about 19 million units, generating $40 billion) will be digitally influenced by 2020 Social media and search are the top digital influencers: Each will influence about 40% of sales Digital will influence consideration in about 60% of consumers by 2020 By 2020, up to 40% of consumers are expected to book services online and about 30% will go online to purchase accessories.
  11. 11. Although the numbers vary from survey to survey, they all draw similar conclusions: consumers are turning to the internet for vehicle information and the future is mobile. These arguments disrupt the way car manufacturers and dealers present their products in front of the potential buyers. Marketing today needs to adapt to changing technologies including AR/VR, mobile, wearables, and so on. • The rise of AR/VR technologies opens new opportunities for automotive marketers to reach out to consumers: Virtual Reality car showrooms and apps are already popping up all over the world. • Because more and more shoppers prefer to access the Internet on mobile, mobile-first is an imperative and, with it, the rise of mobile shopping apps is a reality too. • Consumers expect new, in-vehicle digital technologies, like Samsung’s ‘Digital Cockpit’ for the future connected car.
  12. 12. Mobile-first is a strong trend Netsertive found that only 48% of automotive buyers used mobile to purchase and their survey is indicative of a dominant trend. Facebook found that mobile-first was the primary preference for many buyers as early as 2016. The Facebook mobile-first auto consumers study revealed that 58% of the respondents expected to use their smartphones for all their vehicle research. Of these: • 48% were Millennials • 55% were multi-device users • 44% planned to purchase in less than three months • 50% shopped during the day • 24% had requested a quote online • 76% knew the exact vehicle they wanted before going to the dealer Plus, according to Bain & Company: Mobile will continue to dominate the device mix: Almost 80% of online research is currently conducted on mobile phones
  13. 13. In 2017, think with Google revealed that: • 60% of all automotive searches come from a mobile device • local searches on mobile devices are growing 50% faster than mobile searches overall Even the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. New Autoshopper Study confirms that 56% of automotive internet shoppers conduct product research on a mobile device, while also revealing that 53% of automotive internet shoppers know the make or model of the vehicle they want to purchase before beginning to shop. Last, but not least, a 2017 survey by Google and Kantar revealed that 65% of new car buyers use a smartphone to research.
  14. 14. To improve the car mobile-shopping experience for both sellers and buyers, Google has introduced Automotive ads in March 2016. As an argument, Google noted that searches for “pictures of [automotive brand]” were up 37% year-over-year in 2016, with 80% of those searches occurring on mobile. Therefore, the new Google Automotive ads were designed to „recreate the showroom experience by featuring images of the cars along with additional information about each of them, like estimated MPG or advanced features, right within mobile search results.” Soon after the release of this advertising model, brands reported more than a 30% average increase in engagement rate with Model Automotive ads compared to standard text ads. Google has then introduced Dealer Automotive ads, featuring the location, directions, and a click-to-call button of nearby dealerships at the top of mobile search results.
  15. 15. Mobile-first consumer behaviors Facebook’s 2016 mobile-first auto consumers study identified certain behaviors that should be considered by auto marketers. • 44% use mobile-first for reaching out to a dealer • 38% to book a test drive • 32% to look up details about the nearest dealer • 66% use mobile apps • 73% use m-sites • 41% are likely to download a dealer app to research • 36% find manufacturer apps useful in deciding vehicle make, model, and features • 61% admit that video plays an important role in the shopping experience • 71% prefer to do all the research online and go to the dealer for the final transaction • 58% say that in the future, their smartphone is likely to be the only device they use for all their vehicle research. • 62% say that if they could complete the entire vehicle purchase online, they definitely would. Mobile apps are better for: Getting warranty information 23% Researching the nearest dealer 22% M-sites are better for: Comparing specs 39% Customizing a vehicle 36%
  16. 16. Car-buying apps are in Based on consumer behaviors and the clear preference for digital and mobile, developers are already introducing mobile-only car shopping tools to simplify the purchase process but also to make car ownership attractive to more buyers. Fair is a mobile car-shopping service launched to offer consumers the option to shop and pay for a vehicle entirely from a mobile app. Users only need a driver’s license to qualify, then they select the monthly payment they consider “fair,” and they keep on paying for as long as they keep the car. Users have the opportunity trade or return the car whenever they want.
  17. 17. AutoGravity is an app that allows users to find a car and apply for financing with rates as low as 0.99% in a matter of minutes. It has an interactive vehicle catalog, shows maps to the nearby dealerships selling the car users are looking for, and has several other useful features that simplify the car purchase process directly from the mobile.
  18. 18. Blinker uses technology to put people, not car dealers, in control of every part of the car-buying or selling process – from listing their car for sale to getting a loan. Users can also shop and compare care insurance. The app was a winner at the 2017 SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards.
  19. 19. Social media matters In 2017, Facebook partnered with dealership sites to make car buying easier on Facebook Marketplace. The social media behemoth now allows: • US, UK and Canada dealerships to list new and used cars on Marketplace (with plans to expand globally) • Private users to list their vehicle for sale on Marketplace • Shoppers to browse and find vehicles on Marketplace Although social media is a powerful tool, in 2014 many auto marketers failed to engage with shoppers. Back then, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council revealed: • 38% of consumers planned to consult social media in making their next car purchase • 23% percent of car buyers said they use social media to communicate their purchase experience • 84% percent of automotive shoppers are on Facebook, and 24% of them have used Facebook as a resource for making their vehicle purchases. If the numbers of automotive shoppers on Facebook were so high in 2014, it is logical to expect a similar outcome in 2018, especially as Facebook has added tools for car sellers to reach more consumers.
  20. 20. In recent research, Facebook has discovered that the process of buying a car is a multi-screen and social activity, encouraging dealers and sellers to embrace people-based marketing to engage with in- market buyers based on the intent those buyers have shown online, including on mobile devices. At its turn, Twitter observed that nearly half of the car buyers in the US are on Twitter and that one in four new vehicle purchasers in the U.S. used Twitter as an input to their vehicle purchase decision. Other social networks like Instagram and Snapchat can be used successfully to boost car sales too. Due to its Marketplace, Facebook is currently the most successful social media platform for car sales and purchases. Just like Google, which introduced Automotive ads in 2016, Facebook has a ad product for auto: the Facebook Dynamic ads: “Facebook dynamic ads for automotive allow manufacturers and dealers to upload their vehicle catalogue with relevant details such as make, model and year. It then automatically generates ads that show the most compelling inventory to the right audiences – driving them towards vehicle detail pages, lead submission forms or other valuable places.”
  21. 21. AR/VR technology changing the car shopping process The 2016 Beepi Consumer Automotive Index revealed that 87% of Americans dislike something about car shopping at dealerships and 61% feel they’re taken advantage of while there. According to the same study, 56% of millennials would rather clean their homes than negotiate with a car dealer. Finally, 54% of the survey responders said they would “love” being able to sell or buy a car from home. Technology is already available to improve the car shopping experience for these people. In 2016, Vroom has created a virtual reality showroom that allowed users to view car models from the comfort of their home. Using HTC Vive headsets, users were able to perform 360-degree-view test drives, access vehicle information, and hear the real sounds of specific engines roaring to life, all without having to spend the day at a dealership. BMW has released a set of augmented and virtual reality tools too, allowing users to customize their own BMW i3 or i8, to experience all the highlights of the new BMW 7 Series models, and to enter and explore the interior of BMW vehicles in an impressive 360° presentation.
  22. 22. McLaren used VR to enhance the showroom experience at the Virtual Reality Show in London in 2017: For the past years, several other car manufacturers used AR and VR to showcase all kinds of features usually only available at the dealership or during the test drive. One of the best examples is the Audi City virtual showrooms in London, which reported that “integrating digital and real experience has resulted in sales figures for the London outlet soaring by around 70% compared with the former brand outlet at the same location.” In 2017, Jaguar Land Rover used augmented reality to provide an in-vehicle tour of its latest SUV. And in May 2018, Audi VR experience, a collaborative effort between Audi, ZeroLight, and partners, was named the ‘VR Product of the Year' at the National Technology Awards in London. AR and VR make sense for modern consumers now, but also for future consumers, the current Generation Z. A J. Walter Thompson Intelligence survey in 2016 revealed that 80% of Gen Z shoppers said they are eager to visit stores offering VR technology.
  23. 23. The connected car The connected car is no longer a luxury item. For the past couple of years, due to increased consumer demand, manufacturers begun including connectivity features even in economy cars. Sure, there are still many barriers both technological and economic, but the connected car is a matter of now. Until the self-driving connected car of the future becomes reality, the best example of contemporary connectivity is the Digital Cockpit introduced by Samsung at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.
  24. 24. The Samsung Digital Cockpit “ combines 5G technology and an IoT platform to support a connected lifestyle without compromising safety or performance while on-the-go.” The Digital Cockpit dashboard provides: • driving information such as the standard speedometer and fuel gauge readings, • navigation technology • smartphone connectivity for taking phone calls and streaming music • Integration with Bixby, Samsung’s personalized intelligent assistant, for simple tasks like changing the temperature in the vehicle, but also for controlling IoT devices not in the car like the Family Hub, starting the washing machine from the vehicle, etc. • The Digital Cockpit can also running a variety of third-party apps. And the Samsung Digital Cockpit is not the only connected premiere at CES 2018. At the same event, Mercedes-Benz introduced its intuitive and intelligent multimedia system called MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User Experience. • MBUX can be individualized and adapts to suit the user. • MBUX creates an emotional connection between the vehicle, driver and passengers. • MBUX includes a high-resolution Widescreen Cockpit with touchscreen operation, navigation display with augmented reality technology plus intelligent voice control with natural speech recognition, which is activated with the keyword “Hey Mercedes.”
  25. 25. These two examples are innovations that will revolutionize the industry. Connectivity standards already include internet access, built-in GPS systems and navigation tools, keyless ignition, “find-my- car” features, music apps, autonomous parking and help with navigation, and so on. But savvy consumers demand more: smart assistants able to find a restaurant (hands free) and book a table, hands free payments (for gas, etc.), autonomous driving, predictive maintenance, and much more. One of the most important hurdles faced by manufacturers who plan to design and release connected cars is compliance with the new GDPR regulations released in May 2018 by the European Union. According to GDPR, data generated in a vehicle is the property of the driver and no one else. That means that manufacturers, fleet operators, and car rental companies cannot use this data without consent from the driver. Because, as The Connected Car notes: “Collecting any personal data, including driving patterns, destinations, speed and other information collected by car sensors, without the user's explicit consent, could trigger expensive lawsuits, and fines for breaking the rules can be as much as 4% of the company's global revenue.”
  26. 26. Despite hurdles, auto makers expect to introduce futuristic features like AI learning for a car virtual personal assistant as early as 2020. At CES 2017, Audi and Nvidia promised to put the world’s most advanced AI level 4 autonomous vehicle on the road by 2020. The new AI car is based on the NVIDIA DRIVE™ PX, an AI platform for self-driving cars. And, according to this announcement, passengers will be able to ride in the vehicle's back seat, with no one behind the wheel. Vehicle to vehicle connectivity (V2V) is another feature for the future. In fact, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with its new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS), No. 150 from 2017, hopes to mandate vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications for all new light vehicles and to standardize the message and format of V2V transmissions. There is yet no legislation in place, but Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class, as well as Cadillac CTS by General Motors already feature V2V connectivity.
  27. 27. Omnichannel in automotive In 2013, Frost & Sullivan predicted that 4% of all new cars sold in future, about 4.5 million cars, could be sold completely online by 2020, based on 5000 cars sold online in 2011. In contrast, Cox Automotive COO Mark O'Neil predicted nearly 10 percent of vehicle transactions could be online by 2019. But, so far, there are no statistics available to support either claims, although technology to facilitate omnichannel auto purchases already exists. If in the past the path-to-purchase for car buyers was OEM-dealer- buyer, the advance of technology opened new opportunities for shoppers. The path from the OEM to the dealer and finally the buyer is still cumbersome and flawed by logistics and financial institutions. But, a customer-centric retail model determined many car builders and dealers to offer loyalty programs to retain customers.
  28. 28. On the other hand, consumers use the internet to research and find information and reviews before a purchase. New mobile apps offering pricing transparency and convenient online purchases have emerged. Social media is a new channel too, especially with Marketplace by Facebook, which connects dealers with buyers directly. While offline remains a core component for car buyers, technology will soon enable more direct purchases. In the meanwhile, consumers can still read online reviews, visit virtual showrooms, discuss with friends on social media, compare prices and specs, and much more just using the internet, either from the desktop, or from their smartphones. Retailers and dealers can also leverage all these tools to provide a better in-shop experience offline. The foundation for a seamless omnichannel experience for car buyers is set. To make it work, sellers need to adapt now.
  29. 29. Thank You! The research was conducted by: Mihaela Lica Butler for Carmelon Digital Marketing More articles and researches on Carmelon Digital Marketing website: