6th October 2020

What does the automotive industry’s shift to digital mean for traditional marketing tools?

The auto industry experiences mixed reports of this year’s September plate change we look at how COVID-19 has impacted the automotive industry’s use of traditional marketing tools.

At the start of this month, articles from AM Online pointed to a positive performance for new car sales in September, with Volvo, Clive Brooke Group and MG Motor UK all reporting positive sales figures. Offering reassurance that in the face of challenges, dealership groups are able to push hard for a solid performance. Yet, on the contrary, another report talks of the worst September since the introduction of the two plate-system in 1999. These polarising articles paint a very uncertain landscape across the industry, though one would hope the green shoots of success are a sign of more to come.

Beyond automotive, many other  industries talk of preparations for a ‘COVID-19 winter’ and so we suspect sales activity will be quieter for some months to come and the landscape more competitive than ever as the customer pool contracts.

A digital shift for Automotive companies

As  the auto industry adapts to the ‘New normal’ and quickly embraces new digital technology, we witness the industry as a whole  swiftly shift towards a digital transformation. And this change leaves us asking a pertinent question. What does this adoption of digital technology mean for traditional marketing tools?

No doubt, digital channels and tools are needed for lead generation and prospect nurturing; however, we argue that in current times, the dealership experience is possibly more important than ever.

Since lockdown was lifted and the public was given more freedom, consumers are keen to spread their wings and try to regain a little normality. Shopping, leisure activity and even house and car buying are all back on the agenda.  People want to get back to what they were happy doing and what was familiar prior to lockdown. Cars still need replacing and consumers will continue to be driven by their desire to upgrade, or the need to replace their aging vehicle out of necessity.

What’s more, now that the period of lockdown is over and the majority if individuals who were on furlough have now returned to work. Things are looking more certain for some households and the idea of purchasing a new vehicle seems less risky compared with a couple of months ago.

Dealerships must be well turned out

With this in mind, dealerships would be sensible to ensure they don’t abandon traditional marketing techniques and ensure their ‘shop front’ looks the best it possibly can. It could prove wise to assure passersby that you’re open and ready for business. Tatty flags and outdated banners won’t fill existing customers or the most prized customer – ‘conquest’, with confidence. No doubt, with a smaller customer pool, sales teams may find themselves having to work harder to win new business.

What’s more, customers will still expect the bells and whistles once they’ve purchased their prized new car from you. The handover experience is still as important as ever and often the most visible aspect – as we know how effective live video and customer hand over photos can be to help widen your brand reach and promote your customer experience.

Car purchasing still has and will continue to have a very ‘offline’ presence for its customers, as it is very much a see it, touch it and feel it experience and more often than not, it is an emotional purchase. It is the perfect example of the ‘clicks and bricks’ business model. Therefore, dealerships must enhance that experience in any way they can to make it memorable and leave a lasting impression, whichever stage the visitor is in the buying cycle. These above points, leave us to conclude that dealerships should be using POS and print to dress the forecourt well and invite customers in, especially of the manufacturer is producing enticing offers to stimulate the market. First impressions and offline touchpoints are still a critical aspect of the car purchasing process.

Harrison EDS are specialists in automotive branding, offering everything from quality British made auto flagpoles and flags to banners, POS and display solutions. We’re a trade only supplier and offer an online ordering portal for customer. With Harrison EDS, your can be assured of quality every time and our dedicated account managers can help you source the exact product for your requirements with no hassle.

Sources:

https://www.am-online.com/news/market-insight/2020/10/05/new-car-sales-suffer-21st-century-s-worst-september-plate-change-performance

https://www.am-online.com/news/dealer-news/2020/10/02/uk-car-dealers-smash-september-with-record-sales-performances