Mumbai, March 19, 2013 – Leading global provider of consulting, technology and outsourcing services Capgemini, has released its 14thannual global automotive study, Cars Online 12/13. This year’s study finds that 94 percent of car shoppers start their shopping experience online. While vehicle manufacturers’ websites, dealer websites and search engines are top sources of information, social media gained more influence over purchase decisions this year, and family and friends lost some. This year’s report also reveals that customers now expect the same connected and easy-to-use technology they experience in their everyday lives from their new vehicles.
The study surveyed more than 8,000 consumers in Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Russia, the UK and US, and provides a detailed analysis of consumer vehicle buying and ownership behaviour around the world, including research and buying patterns, social media usage, online buying, green vehicles, smart phone applications, connected car services and after sales.
Key findings from this year’s study: Loyalty to brands and dealers is on the rise. Over the past few years, manufacturers and dealers have worked hard to improve the customer experience, and it seems that their efforts are paying off. Overall, loyalty increased by 16 percent for brands and by 11 percent for dealers from last year.
Despite the digital transformation that is occurring in the automotive and other industries, the dealer is still an integral part of car buying. More than ever, shoppers count on dealers to make sense of everything they’ve read and heard about during their pre-buying research process. According to this year’s report, dealers are considered the number one source of information (in both mature and developing markets) by 56 percent of customers, an all time high.
The best dealers seamlessly connect the virtual and the physical. Working independently and with vehicle manufacturers, dealers can use online resources to help the shopper put everything in perspective, creating a personalized, comfortable and satisfying shopping experience.
The buying cycle continues to shorten with an increasingly demanding customer. Seventy-four percent of respondents said that if they are not happy with the response time from the first “touch point” – the manufacturer’s or dealer’s website – they will walk away before they even get to the showroom. And, the first visit to the showroom is moving closer to the moment of purchase.
· “Connect me” technology enhances the ownership experience. Fifty-one percent of consumers in all markets anticipate that their next car will be connected. Customers expect their new cars to have all the technology they’re used to everywhere else in their lives– applications for work and recreation delivered via their various devices. To get “connected car” features, buyers are willing to share personal data with manufacturers and dealers. - in developing markets, 86 percent of customers are willing to share their data for these features. In many ways, the connected car’s dashboard is “just another device” in a customer’s collection of desktops, laptops, tablets, and smart phones. For the manufacturers and dealers, a connected car offers unprecedented opportunities for direct, customer-specific, targeted marketing. Smart phone applications provide a unique opportunity for manufacturers/dealers to have one-to-one connections to owners — connections that haven’t been possible (but have been desirable) before now.
Social media continues to influence consumers, especially in developing markets and among younger buyers. Customers in developing markets are 50 percent more likely to purchase because of positive comments, and 35 percent less likely to purchase because of negative comments, than are shoppers in mature markets. Influence on purchase decision from “family and friends” dropped to sixth place, from fifth place in 2011 and second place in 2010.
Alternative mobility solutions are seen as a viable alternative for purchasing. Car sharing and intermodal mobility packages are growing in acceptance and require increased attention.
“Today’s consumers are more empowered by technology than ever before, and dealers and manufacturers have the opportunity to take advantage of that,” says Michael Boruszok, Vice President automotive practice, Capgemini. “By further utilizing technology on their websites and in their stores, dealers and manufacturers can enhance the customer experience throughout the entire lifecycle.”
Download the full Cars Online study here