Shown below is an overview of the 10 consumer trends which trendwatching.com predicts will have a global impact on auto industry marketers in 2014. These 10 auto industry impact trends are based on their most recent research and analysis of automotive consumer reported polls and surveys.
1) Random Acts of Kindness
Consumers’ cravings for realness, for the human touch, ensure that everything from Car Companies and Dealerships randomly picking up the tab at Starbucks to sending a surprise gift will be one of the most effective ways to connect with (potential) vehicle buyers and automotive service consumers in 2014, especially automotive consumers in North America, Europe and Japan.
trendwatching.com advises that the rapid spread of social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook among consumers gives brands previously unavailable insight into their moods, wants and locations, and also provides a new direct channel to deliver images of seemingly random acts of kindness that are actually targeted to a dealer or car company's best prospects based on their online activities.
Urbanization remains one of the absolute mega trends for the coming decade, with about the global population currently living in urban areas. Urban consumers tend to be more daring, more liberal, more tolerant, more experienced, more prone to trying out new vehicle brands, models and alternative vehicle ownership services. In emerging markets, these effects tend to be even more pronounced, with new arrivals finding themselves distanced from traditional social and familial structures, while constantly exposed to a wider range of transportation and vehicle ownership or access alternatives.
3) Pricing Pandemonium
Otherwise known as "Showrooming", Mobile devices and social networks allow car shoppers and vehicle service consumers to constantly receive targeted offers and discounts based on their vehicle's actual mileage and their online activities, even while physically visiting a dealership... Including offers from a rival dealer or vehicle manufacturer, as well as being able to join online communities, or vehicle usage interest groups based on mutual ownership of a specific vehicle make or type of vehicle. Car Companies should target vehicle owners and car shopping consumers with offers and features such as instant mobile coupons and discounts, online group discounts, flash sales, and dynamic pricing based on real-time supply and demand.
4) Made for China/India and Emerging Economies
In 2014 and going into 2015, expect to see an increasing number of American and European Car Companies to launch new vehicles or even new makes/models dedicated to consumers in emerging markets. Growth in consumer spending in emerging markets far outpaces consumer spending in developed markets, and Western Car Companies are favored more than local brands in emerging markets. Western brands including Buick, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and BMW have already capitalized on this trend. Witness the new Buick Regal and Buick LaCrosse for Chinese influenced designed and features being emphasized, such as a roomier back seat based on Chinese vehicle owners proclivity for hiring personal drivers.
5) Online Status Symbols
Social Media Marketers recommend that dealers and car companies supply online customers with "Badges" that are symbols, virtual or ‘real world,’ which help them display to peers their online contributions, how interesting they are, creative contributions or even their social network popularity. This includes personalized social networking memorabilia as well as location-based games and contests which award virtual or real-world prizes. Dealers awarding LinkedIn profile badges to vehicle owners who have surpassed 100,000 miles is an example of extending the old-school European OEM practice of vehicle grill badges to the online world of social media based membership sites.
Growing numbers of automotive consumers will expect transportation related products and services in 2014 to prevent misery, and improve their own quality of life, rather than merely providing transportation between points A and B... Vehicle features and dealership amenities such as built-in mobile body function and health monitoring devices, as well as in-vehicle health apps connected to web based health and fitness related social networks, will serve the multichannel wellness needs of automotive consumers who consider their vehicle purchases to be an extension of their lifestyle. Look at Subaru's sponsorship of Skiing, Kia's connection with basketball and Audi's connection with Pro Tennis for possible indicators of this trend.
7) ‘Twin-sumers’ and ‘Social-lites’
Both of these types of online automotive internet users (AIU) identified by market researchers are critical to spreading positive word-of-mouth about vehicles and dealers, as well as personal experience based dealership recommendations.
Twin-sumers are consumers with similar consumer patterns, likes and dislikes, and who are hence valuable sources for recommendations on what vehicles to buy, where to buy them and the dealership experience, while social-lites are consumers who consistently broadcast information about cars, trucks and SUV's, as well as their experience at dealerships to a wide range of associates online.
8) Planned Spontaneity
With lifestyles having become fragmented, with dense urban environments offering automotive consumers any number of instantly available transportation options, and with cell /smartphones having created a generation who have little experience of making (or sticking to) rigid activity plans, 2014 will see the emergence of what market researchers call full-on “planned spontaneity.” Car Companies can expect to see consumers in 2014 rushing to sign up for vehicle and transportation services (the planned part) that allow for endless and almost effortless travel to mass mingling with friends, family, colleagues or strangers (the spontaneity part).
A developing segment of this trend is consumers signing up for mobile services that passively and constantly broadcast their location. One only need to look at Ford Motor Company's latest innovations that extend their in-vehicle SYNC digital system franchise from Microsoft to see this trend in connecting consumers using their vehicles with the web and social networks in action.
When it comes to ‘green consumption’, car companies should expect a rise in “eco-superior” vehicles and alternative products; products that are not only eco-friendly, but superior to conventionally polluting internal combustion powered vehicles in every possible way. Trendwatching.com says car companies should think of a combination of eco-friendly yet superior functionality, superior design, and/or superior total cost of ownership (TCO) savings.
Fractional ownership (think ZipCar) and lifestyle leasing business models have re-emerged, with services such as car-sharing and public vehicle pool programs enjoying success around the globe. For many consumers, access to a car, SUV or truck when needed is more convenient and affordable than full time vehicle ownership via conventional automotive financing or vehicle leasing.
More from from TrendWatching.com, here's an infographic of ten consumer trends that they predicted to impact automotive and consumer marketing in 2013.
- Consumers will participate in the funding and (pre-)launch of new models and model lines.
- Vehicle Brands from many countries will cater to emerging middle classes from all over.
- Consumers will look to their mobile devices to maximize absolutely every moment.
- Products that give back.
- Digital technologies are the new medicines.
- Emerging markets will proudly export and even flaunt their national and cultural heritage.
- Consumers seek to own and make the most of their lifestyle data, and turn to brands that use this data to proactively.
- Resurgence in domestic manufacturing.
- Brands must move from ‘having nothing to hide’, to pro-actively showing and proving they have nothing to hide.
- Brands demand that their customers also contribute to sustainability and socially-responsibility.