By Alysha Webb, Editor and Publisher
Where the car-buying process is concerned, “disruption is here,” Dean Evans, chief marketing officer at Hyundai Motor America told a jam-packed room at last week’s Automotive News Marketing 360 event in Los Angeles.
He and other panelists at the annual event shared their companies’ tactics for making their customer experience and marketing more attractive to changing consumer expectations and demands. Those tactics could help dealerships in their quest to improve customer experience, as well.
“Consumer expectations are driven by other brands,” Evans says. In an increasingly digital age, consumers expect their purchase experience to be fast, transparent, and frictionless. They compare the dealership shopping and purchase experience to non-automotive brands, he says, and “automotive has yet to catch up.”
There are on average 24 consumer touchpoints in the car-buying process, says Evans, and 19 of them are digital. So, it isn’t surprising that his examples for companies meeting the modern shopper’s expectations are mostly online.
Where saving time is concerned, they benchmark Amazon, Uber, and Grub Hub among others. Anyone who has bought something on Amazon (which is most of us), knows that one can get just about anything delivered the next day. And through Grub Hub get just about any food you desire delivered to your home.
Home Depot, Best Buy, and online shoe and accessories market Zappos.com are among Evan’s icons of transparency.
A frictionless transaction always involves having a better experience with technology. Models for frictionless – read have great digital technology – are bunched around online payment services and include Venmo, Apple Pay and PayPal’s Rocket Mortgage.
A J.D. Power survey two years ago alerted Hyundai that it needed to do more to improve its customer experience. The brand was the slowest among major automakers in the time it took customers to buy a car.
Hyundai realized, says Evans, “a bigger rebate is not doable. We need a better shopping experience.”
Its answer was the Shopper Assurance program. The four components are: transparent pricing, a streamlined purchase, flexible test drives, and a three-day worry free exchange policy. Of the 800 Hyundai dealerships in the U.S, 690 are enrolled, representing 83 percent of the brand’s sales volume.
It has been a hit. Ninety-four percent of shoppers like or loved Shoppers Assurance and 71% felt more positive about the Hyundai brand. Importantly for dealers, 67 percent of shoppers said the Shoppers Assurance program made them feel more positive about the dealership.
“The evolution of media is about targeting,” Susie Rossick, assistant vice president of marketing at Honda Motor Co. says. She touted the creative campaign for the new Honda Passport as an example of how to target Millennials and Gen Z shopper.
Introduced in print with the tagline “Take the Road Never Traveled,” Honda had simultaneous TV, website, digital, print, outdoor billboard, email and social media campaigns. All portrayed the Passport as a way to get to rugged places “Off the Beaten Path,” as “Your Passport to Adventure.”
“We nurture our relationship with Millennials through their passions,” says Rossick.
It seems to be working. The Honda brand rose 35 points to 14th in the September of 2018 Business Insider survey of brands Millennials love.
As for the Acura brand, it used a digitally driven “super handling” campaign during March Madness to tout its super AWD. Consumers were encouraged to post videos of their own super handling moves with the hatch tag #superhandling. More than 2,000 videos were uploaded, generating millions of views.
In a bow to the changing retail landscape, Marketing 360 also included Ed Brojerdi, global head of brand at Fair.com, on the panel. Appropriately (for a digital disruptor executive) casually dressed in skinny jeans, a t-shirt and a blazer, he said Fair’s business model – which allows short-term leasing through a mobile phone app – is “based around the consumer. Your life is not based around three year cycles.” That is the usual term for a lease, of course. It also offers insurance and 60 percent of Fair customers buy it, says Brojerdi.
“You can bundle every mobility cost into one price, he says.