“Come in for a test drive!” This phrase is a fundamental part of every campaign launching a new car model onto the market. An invitation to come to the stores to see, touch, and why not, try the latest model. A ritual that has been handed down from generation to generation. Only: Is this invitation still valid today? Is it at times when the customer already knows all the secrets of the new car model, perhaps even better than the car seller? In times like these? In times of the internet …
The internet has changed the game. It is the customer now, who dictates the rules, the customer who gets all the information and has to be convinced before he drops in at the dealership.
Today, 90 per cent of all consumers who want to make a larger purchase (a car for example) spend hours to get information on the web. They visit the producer’s websites and those of the experts, weigh the costs and benefits, and compare the offerings of various manufacturers and suppliers. Car dealerships or stores are therefore the very last link in the chain. When the customer gets there, he usually has already formed an opinion, has already made a purchase decision. What he needs at the most is a confirmation. This behavior is equivalent to a paradigm shift. An epochal paradigm shift.
The automobile sector, whether we like it or not, has become the symbol of the digital revolution. Information technology has not only changed the production of vehicles, but also the vehicle itself. Software, microchips, sensors and communication technologies of various kinds dominate today our cars, the ultimate technological breakthrough is already in sight: the self-driving car. The biggest change, however, is in the consumer buying behavior, the change in the buyer decision process. It is the victory of the masses. Or better: the victory of the internet.
Today, you can check out the latest model that has just been placed on the market and examine it in detail from your home or office. On the internet, there are configurators to customize the vehicle to suit your needs: the interior equipment, the rims and tires, accessories and options. Your own used cars can be estimated on the internet and – if desired – sold. Comparing insurance policies is also not a problem on the web. If the e-commerce keeps on growing at this pace ( the Fiat models Panda and 500 can already be purchased on Amazon), then the circle will close. It is clear that manufacturers and car dealers must adapt to this development. As soon as possible. And not just them.
The era in which people were storming the car-houses and dealerships to get a brochure is over. Today the car traders have to reach the customer: via tablets and smartphones, with individually designed offers.
To meet this challenge, we have developed Inpulse, based on a series of algorithms, that analyzes the web usage, and allows to collect and analyze the data, thus enabling targeted marketing measures in real-time. Using the digital channels, of course. For companies it is therefore vital to understand how our lives are changing. And it is vital to face this change not only passively, but to actively shape it. Those, who do not participate, will remain out of the game, without a real chance to recover the lost ground. Our primary goal is therefore to provide our clients with tools for a direct approach to the market: it is no longer about the “look how beautiful this car is!”, but the”look, this is your car!”. This is a decisive step forward. One that Henry Ford did not anticipate and he would hardly have imagined possible.