The fact that Google is looking into the automotive market is nothing new. Today, however, we will not be speaking about their efforts to develop autonomous vehicles, but about a total of 11 market surveys that they conducted during the coronavirus pandemic. The results of these surveys are critical for car manufacturers and dealers, and quite surprising.
Customers are already looking for something else in their cars
Google is primarily a search engine. For a long time therefore, it has observed trends in what its users are looking for. In the area of car sales, much has changed over the past year. Google has seen an 80% year-on-year increase in searches for “best car under,” and even a 200% year-on-year increase in searches for “nearest RV (caravan) rental.” The pandemic has reduced family budgets for the purchase of new and used cars, and at the same time changed travel conditions. Many people, rather than book hotels (which were often closed anyway), began looking to rent caravans for longer trips to the countryside.
The pandemic attracted new interest to the automobile
However, these are not the only changes that coronavirus has brought to the passenger car market. In a survey from May 2020, PwC noted that 77% of American consumers perceive commuting by public transportation as a health risk in terms of the disease. In addition, 30% of Americans that took a trip by car, did so just for a “change in scenery.” A completely new segment of customers began to emerge, not only in America, for whom public transport or taxis were not sufficient for their needs. They no longer wanted to risk infection and/or they wanted to travel somewhere further out of town to clean their heads from the persistent lockdown and working from home.
During the coronavirus pandemic, cars were sold differently
All of us can probably guess that last year, cars were sold differently than in the showrooms of car dealerships. But Google took the trouble to measure what changed. While for the whole of 2018, only 1% of car sales took place online, in the first half of 2020 already 1/10 cars were sold that way. The big surprise, however, was the fact that 73% of buyers fully accepted this channel, and were able to easily negotiate all the conditions, including financing, fully online. As many as 24% of buyers received a dealer offer for a test drive from home. 98% of them considered it important for their final purchase decision.
As car sales shifted to online during the lockdown, customer expectations also changed. As many as 65% of buyers expected more options when shopping online. This is due to a much more competitive and less geographically limited environment. Suddenly, the approach to customers began to play a more important role. In addition, for new customers, the complexity of the pre-sales phase has increased. On average, while previous car owners are considering between fewer than 2 different models, new customers are considering more than 3 different models. The dealership is not only fighting on its behalf but must also be able to sell a specific type of model which is currently in stock.
The way car dealers communicate with customers has changed
Last year it became clear that customer communication played a very important role in sales. And especially the electronic communication channels – advertisements, social networks, newsletters, etc. And the Google data shows why. Every searcher needs their own messaging. Personalized advertising showed an 11% higher intent to purchase and a 7% higher clickthrough rate. In addition, meaningful messaging was 31% more important to brand love and 28% more important to brand trust than people realized.
The key to success were narrowly targeted offers, for example to new parents, a customer group that from 2021 has begun to grow rapidly worldwide. In 2021, it is not a question of selling a specific model of a specific brand, but of being able to responds to the needs of a specific SUV customer who wants the most rear space, the best family SUV, or the safest mid-sized SUV.
CRM in car sales brings measurable benefits
The only chance to succeed in a significantly transformed market is to have an accurate understanding of your customers’ needs as well as more flexible, targeted, and faster communication than your competition. This is impossible without the use of professional CRM software for car dealerships. If you do not have the tools in your dealership that provide a comprehensive view of each existing and potential customer while being able to incorporate data from social networks, you will have a problem in 2021. Google research has clearly shown that an investment into a tool like Automotive CRM from Konica Minolta, will pay off.
Think with Google, Rider to Driver Auto Trends 2020, https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/trending-data-shorts/rider-to-driver-auto-trends