With a marketplace full of choices, technology, and customization, today’s consumers are more empowered than ever. They’ve taken control when it comes to shopping, making their preferences known, and ensuring they get exactly what they want. Whatever the product, there’s no shortage of options and add-ons, and competition is fierce. For those in the automotive industry, this makes it incredibly important to zero in on shopper insights and focus on the features being prioritized by today’s consumers.
Things like quality, reliability, fuel economy, environmental friendliness, vehicle size, price, and safety are major deciding factors, and salespeople who spend time getting to know what’s most important for individual customers are the ones who will be able to offer the best solutions—and ultimately, sell more cars. For automotive in general, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) predicted a strong finish to 2016, with a forecasted 17.71 million in light car and truck sales, an increase of 2.3% over the previous year. Attributable to better gas prices, a general uptick in the economy, and lower interest rates, dealerships have advantages in front of them when they leverage shopper data and take advantage of this momentum.
What Consumers Want
Consumers have changed what they’re looking for as vehicles have steadily adapted to modern needs and lifestyles. Now, shoppers are more apt to put tech features that impact safety and convenience at the top of their lists. In fact, AutoTrader’s recent Car Tech Impact Study confirmed exactly how much the latest technology affects the buying behaviors of various consumer groups:
- 52% of consumers surveyed said they expect their vehicles to sync with all the other technology in their lives, and 46% said they want their cars to be able to do all the things their smartphones do.
- 6 out of 10 consumers say there’s at least one must-have tech feature they’d be willing to wait for when buying a new car.
- 70% of those surveyed said they’re likely to consider a car with autonomous features next time it’s time to buy.
- 70% of Gen X survey participants said they would like WiFi in their vehicles.
- Consumers chose advanced safety features—like backup cameras and blindspot monitoring—nearly 7 to 1 over advanced infotainment features.
There’s a wide range of new technology being developed for vehicles, and the research overwhelmingly shows consumers want new cars to fit seamlessly into their lives. When shoppers purchase devices, they expect them to be smart, efficient, and updated with the latest technology—and they have these same expectations for cars as well. Consumers want to know they’re getting the latest in safety, connectivity, and infotainment when they get behind the wheel, and they want the experience to be seamless. Ideally, their vehicles will become trusted devices, much like their smartphones, they can rely on in their busy day-to-day lives.
Other factors like vehicle size, fuel economy, and alternative fuels continue to factor in to consumer decision making, so keep these in mind as well when working with environmentally-conscious shoppers. Fuel economy continues to improve, with technology that used to only appear in premium models now becoming standard, offering better options for more drivers. In addition, new clean diesel offerings are appearing across the market—a solution that’s been popular in Europe, and one that’s intriguing consumers who are interested in a potential 20% increase in gas mileage.
Green consumers still have their sights trained on electric cars and strides are being made in this arena. With the 263-mile range of Tesla’s Model S, limits are being pushed, and drivers are seeing even more possibilities with electric mobility. There are currently 1.3 million electric vehicles worldwide, but this number will continue to increase and those concerned with diminishing their carbon footprints continue to see advancements in electric cars.
How to Win With Innovation
Your dealership has a wide range of shoppers with a variety of needs. You’ll win them over and sell more cars when you get in front of their needs and know what they’re looking for before they ever get to your showroom floor. Remember, consumers are utilizing smart tools to find and research the vehicles they want, so it’s up to you to leverage intelligent shopper insights to get your customers exactly what they need.
Dealerships used to saturate the market with blanket offers, hoping shoppers would be interested enough to visit the dealership and shop. But with today’s technology, it’s not enough to guess what shoppers are looking for—especially when it’s quick and easy to see exactly what they’re interested in simply by tracking their online shopping behaviors. Successful dealerships are utilizing AutoAlert Data Mining, which uses advanced algorithms and analytics to reveal valuable insights and alert them when consumers are in the market to buy, when customers schedule service or pull into the service drive, when lease contracts are about to expire, and more.
Whatever your sales goals, the bottom line in today’s market is getting to know your customers and providing exactly what they need, at exactly the time it’s needed. That’s when you’ll stand out from the rest and earn a reputation for being a dealership that’s insightful and in tune with what shoppers are looking for.
Author: Joey Little
Joey Little serves as Director of Digital and Social Engagement for AutoAlert. An expert in customer experience management, he educates automotive professionals at speaking engagements across the country. With results-driven advice and proven industry knowledge, he assists dealerships in reaching their audiences and increasing business via their social platforms.