The Grapevine summer series
Without stock to sell, car marketers have been forced to shift their strategies – and that means keeping existing customers and prospects happy while they wait months, sometimes years, for their new car.
Looking at this through a behavioural science lens, what does this mean for consumer buying behaviour?
And with purchases becoming more infrequent, how can marketers keep their brand top of mind?
We discuss some practical ideas for increasing loyalty, getting people talking about your brand in the right way and creating an “in the club” mentality.
Vicky: Hello and welcome to a special summer edition of the Grapevine, brought to you by her Deify. My name’s Vicky. I’m the c m O at her Deify, and I’m in the driving seat this week while our usual host Tom, is taking a well-deserved holiday. So this is a mini episode, especially for marketers in the automotive industry.
Vicky: And it’s a quick 15 minutes long, so think of this as very short bite-sized Sunland content. Um, and our topic today is the availability crisis, specifically in the automotive industry. So big topic, and we’ll try and cover as much as we can in the next 15 minutes. As always, I’m joined by Ed. Ed, how are you doing?
Ed: I’m good. Thank you, Vicky. How are you? Yeah. Yeah. Really good. Thank
Vicky: you. Um, let’s dive straight in cause I think there’s a lot to talk about here. Um, and [00:01:00] thinking, first of all, kind of without stock to sell immediately, I think car marketers have been forced to really shift their strategies in the last couple of years.
Vicky: Um, and so that means, I guess, that they’ve been sort of keeping existing customers and prospects. Happy. Well, they sometimes wait months or years actually for their new car. Um, so putting your behavioral science hat on, what do you think that means for consumer buying behavior and kind of how that’s gonna pan out in the next few
Ed: I think, I think it. It, it, it affects a lot about what is motivating people to purchase new cars. Right. Um, the new car industry is, is, is a very in interesting industry from behavioral point of view because there is such a proliferation in secondhand, right? It’s one of the few industries where [00:02:00] secondhand is the kind of go to.
Ed: Um, is, well, I think it’s ever so slightly the go-to most years is, is there’s more, more secondhand car sales than, than new registrations. Um, and I think what that means is it is difficult with a supply crisis to convince people that they need to wait. Right. In general, people are very impatient, um, especially if, uh, As is happening at the moment is that even people who are finishing leases are struggling to lock down
new deals in time for the end of their lease, right?
Ed: It used to be the case that you could roll, you know, you get a three year lease, you get signed up to a new three year lease. You swap cars pretty much on the day that you’ve come to the end of the deal. Now people are waiting even like three or four months. For that to happen. Even, even though car companies can see what’s gonna happen, they wanna sell them [00:03:00] the car, but they don’t have the stock.
Ed: Right. And that’s kind of a, so, you know, I think a good crystal crystallization exactly how bad this, this, uh, chip crisis, as we might call it, is, um, is in the car industry now. What, what does it mean for consumer behavior? In terms of what, what people are looking for when they’re buying a car, they’re looking for that purchase experience much more.
Ed: Right? You will, there will be people who are trading d go, you know, going to different shops or different, sorry, different retailers, different brands to try and get cars more quickly. So what does that mean that they brands need to do and particularly, uh, Sales rooms need to do, they need to nurture people through that sales process.
Ed: You know, the worst possible, the worst possible experience that you could have in this is you walk in, you agree to buy a car, [00:04:00] you put your deposit down, and then you don’t hear anything for four months, and then you get a phone call going, oh, your car’s coming tomorrow. Do you wanna come and pick it up?
Ed: Right. That’s a terrible customer experience, and crucially, people will share that customer experience. You know, especially, uh, amongst friends and family, people often talk about new cars they might buy and if that, you know, you can imagine the world where you, you are seeing people for like the third or fourth time since you said you were getting that new car and you still don’t have it.
Ed: Like that doesn’t give a great look for your brand and your brand buying experience. It makes it seem like a lot of hassle.
Vicky: Yeah, I think that’s, um, I think that kind of talk of almost you, you’ve told somebody that you are getting it, so it kind of reinforces that, that conversation every time you see them, they’re probably asking, well, where’s your new car? Exactly. Oh, I still haven’t got it. So, [00:05:00] With the kind of, the thing of purchases becoming more infrequent, I
suppose, because of this, you know, because there, there’s less availability.
Vicky: What can car marketers do to keep their particular brands top of top, top of mind, you know, do you think that there’s. Loyalty steel to particular brands, or is it, as you alluded to, you know, the cars that are available, those companies are the ones who are taking the lion’s share at the moment. I mean, what can marketers do to, you know, to keep their brand at the forefront of people’s conversations?
Ed: I suppose So, I think, I think this is traditionally something that mar uh, that, uh, car marketers have been. Really good at actually, and car brands in particular, right? They do a lot of high level brands building activity. Um, it has been said that a lot of that activity is actually, the value of it comes from in enhancing the experience of current owners much more than [00:06:00] spreading the message of the brand, right?
Ed: So if you own, uh, An Aldi and you see an advert of an Aldi kind of like in a, like aspirational setting that makes you feel connected to that brand, and then you feel happy in the fact that you are one of those people who’s, you know, you are one of those fashionable people who’s got the Aldi, right?
Ed: That’s, that’s the idea. And it definitely works like that. People, people definitely respond more to adverts of cars that they have or brands that they have, and so, Traditionally car, car, uh, brands have been very strong on this. I’d say recently there’s actually been a, a migration significantly away from this, um, to the extent that, um, some, uh, car brands have like stopped brand activity altogether or had stopped brand activity altogether.
Ed: And I think that’s really, um, kind of has, has [00:07:00] turned. Probably, I think over assumed that car purchasing has become a lot more of a comparative sort of sales based process. Right. And, and a lot more, you know, it, it kind of rested on the assumption that people were a lot more informed that they were gonna go and buy the car that was best for them.
Ed: But I just don’t, I don’t think that’s actually how humans a change in human, in, in consumer behavior. We’ve seen, um, you know, consumer are, uh, most of the aspect components of our. Uh, all the, the kind of components of our human behavior have been built up over evolution, over, you know, millennia. They’re not gonna be changed in a 20 year
period because the internet allows us to look up cars more and learn more about cars before we buy them.
Ed: So I think in terms of purchases becoming more infrequent, what, yeah. What car marketers really need to do is, is. A [00:08:00] keep, as you say, keep brand top of mind and also reinforce the qualities of that brand. Um, it’s also with cars, there’s a really particular sort of problem I think with car, uh, not problem consideration.
Ed: I think in, in, in car manufacturing that is that if purchases become more infrequent, which they are, they are because of the supply problems, cuz increased hassle of getting a new car, um, you know, why bother going to try and buy a new car if. I’m not gonna be able to get it for three months, you know, who knows if I can afford the finance in three months time?
Ed: Right. Is is precisely that cost of living as well. People are gonna be stretching out the time between car purchases. Now, the lease system, um, and people on leases tend to actually have that built in. But even then, people will be more happy to kind of stay on the same lease because it’s easier rather than upgrading.
Ed: Right. And, and, and potentially taking an increased cost to upgrade. And what that means is [00:09:00] that cars are gonna last a lot longer and I think, or people are gonna hold onto their cars longer. And what car brands need to think about there is, okay. One is reliability. Now that’s not really marketing’s department, but reliability is one thing.
Ed: But reliability in the modern world when it comes to cars is not just a question of build is a lot of that is to do with the service. The service they can offer. Right. How do you incorporate marketing into the service offering so that people are receiving positive messages about their bra, their car, as their car is being worked on, for example, or being meant being repaired.
Ed: How do you make sure that people’s, those negative experiences, cuz it always is a bit of a negative experience, if your car breaks down, don’t eat too much into your car’s brand. And one of the best ways of, of doing that is, is to [00:10:00] have people kind of feel the value of their car by the impression it has on other people, right?
Ed: So if other people express an aspirational attitude towards a car, Or towards the car that you have. Then I think, well then research shows
that really enhances the value for that per that person who does, you know, that owner. So what, what are we talking about there? Kind of more specifically is, for example, if there’s like a new feature on a car.
Ed: If you can motivate people to a ask about that. Right. Ask your friend who’s got their Mercedes about the park assist. Because it’s meant to be great. Then having that conversation, an owner of a Mercedes being asked about that makes them feel good about the fact they’ve got that car. Providing the feature is, is, is useful, but.
Vicky: So what we’re saying really is [00:11:00] it’s less now about those glossy ads that we all associate with, with car brands and more about kind of that aspirational I want to be in the club. And then when you are in the club, fostering a kind of a conversational relationship amongst the people who you kind of, you talk to about these things.
Vicky: So you know, if there are people that you chat to frequently about cars, Um, making sure that those people that you, that your customer chats to have got the right information so that when they’re having a conversation about reliability or value or products or features, they’ve got the right information to hand within that club, as it were.
Ed: Yeah, definitely. And I think, I think it’s worth kind of adding to that, that the majority, the majority of consumers. Maybe not the majority. A large number of [00:12:00] consumers could not identify car brands just from the cars themselves. But they will identify if they Exactly, exactly like they would. But you would identify if someone told you their car was an Audi, you would know they had an Audi.
Ed: Right? Because we know the names of the car brands, we just can’t identify them. And that’s why conversations are so important for building the brand of cars. And we’ve
Vicky: all got those friends who like to drop the, the, the car brand’s name into conversation. Exactly. And any opportunity.
Ed: Exactly. Yeah. Every everyone knows someone like that and they’re, you know, they can be the biggest advocates for your brand, but at the same time, if they, they, they shouldn’t be the only advocate for your brand.
Ed: Right. If you are someone who doesn’t care for cars, So much. Then hearing the person that you’ve earmarked as someone who obviously
cares a lot about how their car looks and cares about their car, talk about [00:13:00] it, isn’t necessarily gonna engage with you because, or you are not gonna engage with that message because you’re like, oh yeah, but that’s a car for car people.
Ed: Right? Right. So what’s really useful, what’s really good about, um, building conversations about a brand is that people reframe. Your marketing messaging in language that works for them.
Vicky: Yep. So really making this not about some elite club, it’s kind of like a, it’s, it’s just the club of people that you would generally talk to on a day-to-day basis. You know, neighbors, friends. It’s those people who can help to build that trust. Again, rather than the kind of glossy messages that that car brand themselves might want to put
Ed: Well, trust, but, and, and also I think kind of, uh, are able to deliver like a significantly large number of, [00:14:00] much larger number of marketing messages than a brand campaign ever. Could or would, should want to, right? You know, you don’t want a bra car, you don’t wanna have a campaign which, you know, emphasizes 50 different aspects of the car.
Ed: You don’t wanna, you know, try and hold a brand convey together, which, uh, emphasizes cornering ability to some people. But the practicality of. You know, the space in the boot to some other people, but actually your, your users, the people who have your cars, can share those messages in a very honest way with people, with other potential new customers who they think will respond to those messages.
Ed: So you get that kind of tailored brand marketing without having to do the effort and without. You know, having a, frankly, what would probably look like a [00:15:00] contradictory brand image.
Ed: Right? Yeah.
Vicky: Okay. So then I guess in practical terms then, cuz I think we understand the concept of, you know, those communi communities being the real advocates for your brand and, you know, real life advocates, rather than going back to that glossy message that, that the car brand itself puts out. But, In terms of kind of the practicalities of that, how would a marketer put something like that together?
Vicky: How do they make the leap between that kind of maybe more traditional approach and then something that, as you said, is more about that community around the customer?
Ed: So I, I think, um, you know, partly it’s, it’s, it’s about using your marketing to trigger. Conversations. So, so how do you, how do you get people, um, [00:16:00] talking about your brand, how do you get your current consumers, your current users, kind of talking about your car and the way you do that is to, to increase, or one way to do that is to increase interest in your brand generally.
Ed: Right. So I’d say the, the best example of this, And that’s obviously isn’t, well this isn’t what they’ve been doing explicitly is Tesla. Right? If I know a lot of people who ask, if they’re in a, in a conversation with someone who has a Tesla, they’ll ask them what a Tesla’s like because they want that feedback.
Ed: Now that’s ki you know, partly that’s because Tesla’s new, right? That, that is the big reason for that. It’s an ev. Um, electric vehicles have a great advantage on this. Um, but at the same time, there’s no, there’s no reason that it can’t just be for Tesla, [00:17:00] right? Yeah. You can, you can suggest, um, you know, if you, if your brand is, is strong enough, if your, if your brand messaging is kind of more direct, and this is where maybe, uh, targeting your ads to, to particular areas or particular groups of people developing those different sort of brand messages.
Ed: Say in your performance ads for particular, in particular, because they’re, they’re, they’re targeting a smaller group of people. You can generate conversations that are sort of more focused to different pain points you might call them, or different reasons why people buy cars and
Ed: not just, not just reasons why they buy cars, but reasons why they’re in, they’re curious with cars, curious about buying a different car. Um, you know, e even if people. Often by secondhand cars, they still have loyalties to particular brands. And for example, like reliability is, [00:18:00] we mentioned earlier like a lot of people just care about reliability and they will try, try and sample their friends when it comes down to like reliability, right?
Ed: And the be, I, I think the best example of a, I guess a marketing campaign around reliability is, uh, The Kia, like the seven year warranty, um, that Kia runs in all its cars. Now, whilst that feels like a reliability message, it’s not, it, it doesn’t seem to land as well, right? It’s, it is, is
meant to take away that sort of fear from people.
Ed: But in conversation in, I’ve never had a conversation with someone about Kia, which, which is like, oh, the Kia is really reliable because of this seven year warranty.
Vicky: So it’s really about kind of reinforcing that, those different messages at at through [00:19:00] multiple touchpoints with, within the community, I suppose.
Ed: Yes. Yeah. And, and, and, and also, I mean, one, one big thing, and I’m sure that many, many brands are doing this is, is, uh, recalibrating your, uh, your kind of purchase experience.
Ed: Uh, a for giving a nurture flow effectively during that waiting period, right? Yeah. Keeping people informed. Just giving them good way points of like what’s happening with their, their process, not, you are still in the queue, right? Um, yeah. Making sure, you know, managing expectations during that. And then also once they’ve received the car, you know, make you, you know, there, there is a.
Ed: There’s a famous saying in, um, sort of bar marketing, right? Always keep a line, right? It’s kind of like, like make the, the weight part of the experience, make the weight part of the kind of [00:20:00] exclusivity, right? You, you are waiting because what you are getting is worth waiting for and you can then use that as a really good, you, you, you want people to go away or, or once they’ve received their new car, you want them to tell their friends that.
Ed: It was worth the wait because not, it was good, but I had to wait for it.
Vicky: Yeah. Yeah. That was part of the experience.
Vicky: Yeah. Yeah, it’s interesting actually mentioned Tesla a moment ago, and I think they announced a few weeks ago that they, so they’ve never done any kind of real paid full marketing.
Vicky: Um, but they are shifting towards that now. They’ve, they’ve in the past kind of really relied on word of mouth, um, and that kind of, I
guess, exclusivity to, to fuel their growth. But now they’re looking at how they. How they really kind of get [00:21:00] behind that word of mouth and the, that drive through those recommendations and how they align that with their marketing strategy.
Vicky: So I think that’s a really interesting one to watch and aligns with a lot of what you’ve just talked
Ed: about. Yeah, exactly. I think, I think, um, they’re very, I mean, Tesla, Tesla’s an interesting case because they say they don’t do marketing, but they. I think it’s, it is more, more, more that they own some very powerful marketing channels, right?
Ed: Yeah. So, so they don’t pay other people to do their marketing, but they, they, yeah. They, they haven’t been using broader channels. It, it’s not really clear why they’re trying it. Um, I think, well there’s two, there’s two things there. The other reason Tesla Tesla’s never had a problem, right? It’s manufacturing’s always run well behind.
Ed: You know, we talk about supply issues for other cars, uh, for Tesla’s, supply issues have been, you know, front and center since day one. Yeah. [00:22:00] Uh, you know, they, they’ve consistently, uh, not been able to deliver cars at the rate they need. They wanted to, and therefore they kind of had just had enough, you know, they didn’t need to pay for marketing because they had enough.
Ed: Um, yeah. They’ve announced they’re gonna gonna try marketing and it’ll be interested to see if they stick with it or not. Right. I think and, and also like, which, especially what will be especially interesting is which parts of it, of, of it, of the marketing they stick with. You know, do they do brand marketing?
Ed: Um, you know, in some ways are they running a big experiment into what works? Are they doing brands? Are they doing like their paid media? Are they gonna do some performance marketing? Um, Do they wa, you know, which ones do they stick with? It would be a really good indication for other car brands about where they should look for value.
Vicky: Absolutely. Yeah. I think definitely one to watch. And, and [00:23:00] you know, they haven’t said this, and this is surmising, but I feel like they’ve got a lot of. Behavioral science concepts that are kind of already being supported through, through some of the activity that they’ve done, whether intentional or not.
Vicky: So it’d be really interesting to see how that then plays out in, in this strategy, whatever that looks like.
Ed: Yeah, exactly. So understanding like they have, they have a strong community. They have a big community of, of advocates I think as well. Right. Um, I think it’s fair to say they have a shrinking community of, of haters as well, probably.
Ed: Yeah. Um, and potentially I think, and this is reading a lot into it, but potentially I think their problem is, is that they, or the reason they might be trying marketing now is they are, they are stepping out of the, historically Teslas ha have been a car for people who are very interested in [00:24:00] cars. And they’re trying, probably trying to step out of that at the same time that there’s many other, the other car manufacturers are becoming the, are, are sort of entering the EV market in a much more serious way.
Ed: And I think that’s really what they, what’s what’s go kind of what they’re seeing here is that they, they’re having to attract a wider body of customers, um, you know, The people who are super interested in cars A isn’t a big enough group anyway, and b, that’s starting to get being taken away by other manufacturers fit kind of fishing in the same pond for customers.
Ed: And I think that that’s why they’ve, they’ve decided that, I think that’s potentially why they’ve decided to try and do a bit more, uh, well to, to, to try advertising and see how they can, how they can expand their, their kind of potential customer base. Yeah,
Vicky: definitely one to watch. Interesting. [00:25:00] Great. Okay, so just to quickly wrap up then, um, so one key thing that automotive marketers can do today, um, to really keep future customers interested in their brand amidst, you know, all of these issues that are going on in the industry
Ed: right now.
Ed: So I, I think, uh, the kind of the most important thing is, is to think about how do you, uh, Kind of start conversations, how do you create communities around your brand? And that’s not just user, you know, purchasers and users. It’s, it’s everyone. And I think, uh, for car manufacturers, what a lot of them are doing is that they’re, they’re shifting back to, or they’re shifting to brands led activity and away from
like sales lead generation.
Ed: Call to actions. So more kind of they’re shifting is the more brand activity. And I think the, the really important thing they want to consider is like how those two things can go hand in hand. [00:26:00] So how can you have a performance sales ad which has, which can generate a di a sales lead directly, but also reinforces your brand.
Ed: And I think that’s sort of that if you can find, if you can run campaigns which do that, you’ll be able to. Support your sales while at the same time building the brand and really
Vicky: nurturing those customers through the journey. That’s great. Thank you so much, ed. I hope everyone who’s listened has learned something.
Vicky: I certainly have. Um, as always, please leave comments for us, um, and we’ll, we’ll get back to you and check out her deify.com if you’ve got time for more from Ed. And that’s it from us. Thank you very much for listening.