Changing consumer expectations force automotive brands to become more agile

As technological innovation continues to disrupt industries and consumers’ expectations continue to rise, businesses are constantly looking at ways to quickly to keep up with consumer’s rapidly changing behaviour.

One industry that has seen an evolution in consumer behaviour is the automobile industry. The internet has impacted how consumers think about purchasing a car. A recent study by Capgemini found that the internet now plays an integral role in the path to purchase. The study, which was completely by just over 10,000 people across the UK, Germany, France, the US, Brazil, Indonesia, China, South Korea and India, found that 97% of all consumers use the Internet in the run up to buying a car – most commonly to research vehicle features and ratings, investigate OEM and dealer reputations with regard to fairness and customer care, and to explore drivers’ levels satisfaction with particular vehicles.

The Internet is also influencing how consumers want to purchase cars; there’s increasing interest among consumers to buy a car online. This is more commonly seen in growth markets, for example 61% of Chinese consumers would buy a car online compared to 34% in the US. Going forwards, industry analysts Frost & Sullivan estimate that 5% of all car purchases will be online by 2020.

In this world of changing consumer expectations, automotive manufacturers cannot afford to stand still. Brands will have to become more agile, responding to these changes in consumer behaviour in a timely manner.

Some automotive brands are already making progress in this area. Consumers are already able to order Tesla cars online. And Volvo has earmarked 1,927 of its new XC90 ‘First Edition’ cars to be available soley online. Their digital store, which opened at the start of September, is available across 29 countries. The new site is not focused solely on encouraging e-commerce. According to Volvo’s senior vice president of marketing, sales and customer service “the move is part of plans to create as online ecosystem that aims to make the process of shopping for, buying and owning a Volvo easier“.

As the internet and digital technology continues to play an increasingly important role in consumers’ lives, we expect to see more automotive brands responding in this way by harnessing online channels to influence both the path to purchase and meet consumer expectations at the point of sale.