How is Digitization Changing Marketing and Connecting in the Car?

Digitization is changing the way vehicles are driven, the way vehicles are marketed, and it is changing the very experience of life. During the recent J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Automotive Internet Roundtable in Las Vegas, NV, a panel of OEM, third-party website and digital technologies company experts discussed opportunities and challenges for the auto industry in taking advantage of these new and future digital technologies, including GPS predictive technologies, telematics, gesture recognition, and inter-communication of vehicles and signals.

Some of the key topics and trends from the panel discussion are summarized:

• The sky is the limit. Computing power is increasing and consumers are adopting technology much faster.

• Specifically, the technology for cars to drive themselves is already available. Re-engineering will be needed to make it affordable. The real issues are government- and society- related. Safety and liability issues need to be considered as well. Panelists estimated that self-driving cars may be available in 5+ years. Continue reading ›

Smartphone Use for Automotive Shopping on the Web Rises

Arianne Walker

The proportion of vehicle shoppers who use smartphones for automotive research on the Internet has climbed over 40% from 2010, according to our J.D. Power Automotive Mobile Site Study, which is based on automotive mobile website evaluations from 3,914 automotive shoppers who intend to buy or lease a vehicle within the next two years.

This year, nearly one-fourth (24%) of in-market smartphone Internet users have used their smartphone to visit automotive websites. A year ago, the figure averaged just 17%. Additonally, the 41% increase in visits to automotive websites on smartphones is far greater than for any other type of content, such as gaming (27% growth from 2010) or social media (17% growth from 2010).

Admittedly, the proportion of vehicle shoppers who use smartphones to visit the Internet during the shopping process is still relatively small. However, this is expected to continue to grow during the next several years, which will shape the way automotive marketers will need to design their mobile sites and apps. Continue reading ›

Total Loss Auto Insurance Claimants are Least Satisfied


Jeremy Bowler

Auto insurance customers who file a claim that results in a total vehicle loss are much less satisfied with the claims experience than are those customers who file a claim for a repairable vehicle, according to our 2011 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study, which measures six key factors* that impact satisfaction with the claims process for auto physical damage loss.

Our most recent study, which is based on more than 11,500 responses from auto insurance customers who filed a physical damage loss claim** within the past 12 months, finds that satisfaction with the claims experience averages just 811 (on a 1,000-point scale) among claimants filing a total loss—that’s 42 points lower than the average among those claimants whose vehicles were repaired.

The gap is mainly due to less satisfaction with the settlement amount received. Nearly one-half of total loss claimants indicate the settlement wasn’t enough to replace their totaled vehicle with a similar make/model vehicle. Continue reading ›

Sales-Lead Generation and Interaction Adapts to New Platforms

Social media (SM), such as Facebook, and mobile messages on smartphones are changing the way consumers interact with dealerships and vice versa, according to a group of panelists representing OEMs, a dealer group, and data research and analysis firms.

During the recent J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Automotive Internet Roundtable in Las Vegas, NV, five experts presented their views and insight about managing auto sales leads in today’s world, and also discussed how dealerships and customers will handle it in the future. Continue reading ›

Mobile Marketing: The Next-Generation Platform and Game Changer

The current state of mobile marketing was addressed in three separate panel discussions (Automotive Mobile Strategies, Game Mechanics, and User Behavior; Mobile Campaign Strategies; and Taking Mobile from Experiment to Experience) during the recent J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Automotive Internet Roundtable in Las Vegas, NV.

Amit Aggarwal

Participants on all three panels stressed the need to have a strategic focus and “smart fundamentals,” using mobile as a component within broader campaigns. In developing the strategy, marketers need to understand what kind of consumer they are trying to reach, what the consumer wants to do, and which tools marketers will need to put in front of consumers. Mobile currently has very high bounce rates because marketers are not creating enough compelling mobile destinations, most of the panelists acknowledged.

John Deschner, senior vice president of Deutsch, also recommended having an invention/experimentation budget (e.g. 5%) that can be used to test ideas. His suggestion: “Try to learn cheap and fast, but commit to it—you just need one of them to blow up.” Continue reading ›

The Long and Short of Luxury Cars in China

Jenny Gu

Long-wheelbase luxury car models are most common in China. Audi established this segment in 2005 with the introduction of the long-wheelbase A6, which proved to be popular with buyers in China. Audi’s competitors soon followed with their own entries, and now China is the only market in the world to offer long versions of the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Mercedes S80L.

Until recently, extended-base luxury cars were the most popular in China. But as the market has grown, car buyers’ tastes and preferences have begun to change and diversify. Buyers increasingly are beginning to favor standard-wheelbase vehicles. This trend has been spotted by BMW, which is now offering stretched and standard-wheelbase versions of its cars. We think this is both a bold and astute move.

The powertrain and trim levels between the two wheelbase versions are largely the same. Typically, however, the long version will exhibit slightly higher top speeds and better acceleration, while the standard version will have slightly better handling. Continue reading ›

Dialogue through Media Engagement Changes Brand Perception for Toyota

Sujata Sontakke

Digital advertising can be used to engage consumers in conversation and change their perceptions about brands, according to two speakers from a major advertising agency and national US newspaper. Samantha Johnson, communications director, for Saatchi & Saatchi and Chris Wilcox, vice president of Media Group West, for USA TODAY presented a few details about their multi-faceted ad program for Toyota to the 1,250 participants at J.D. Power’s recent 2011 Automotive Internet Roundtable.

A few highlights about the interactive campaign:

• Toyota wanted to boost its brand health, increase brand favorability and purchase intent after a series of recalls and negative press several years ago. Continue reading ›

October Retail Light-Vehicle Sales Remain Relatively Strong

Jeff Schuster

Despite continuing concern about the state of the US economy, retail light-vehicle sales during the first half of October remained relatively healthy, and are in line with the average selling pace achieved at the beginning of this year. In October, J.D. Power projects that the average annual selling pace (SAAR) for retail light-vehicles will reach 10.5 million units, which matches last October’s rate and the average sales pace in September 2011.

Highlights from our most recent monthly sales update that is based on Power Information Network® (PIN) retail transaction data for the first 13 selling days of the month include an outlook for retail, fleet and total US sales in October and for the calendar year:

• Retail light-vehicle sales in October are expected to reach 828,300 units, up 11% on a selling-day-adjusted basis* from 776,839 unit sales in October a year ago. This equates to a selling pace of 10.5 million units, which matches last October’s retail sales pace and also the sales rate in September 2011. Continue reading ›

Smartphones Continue to Transform Vehicle Purchase Process

Sujata Sontakke

The vehicle purchase as an interactive experience with mobile Web and mobile Apps was explored by Dane Holewinski, director of marketing at Greystripe, a brand-focused mobile ad network that is a division of ValueClick. He told participants at the recent 2011 Automotive Internet Roundtable that in the next year, between 5 and 7 million new vehicles will be purchased by owners of iPhones and Androids, and 80% of these iPhone and Android owners will use their smartphones for their auto purchases.

Holewinski provided a few details from a study of 850 iPhone users who were recruited using ads through networks and he also presented highlights from two specific brand phone ad campaigns. A few key points are summarized:

• A majority (80%) of study respondents (iPhone users) who are in the market for a vehicle will use a mobile device extensively for their auto purchase.

• Some 50% said they will use it on the lot, while 30% will use their phone to search for a dealership and 20% will contact the dealership by smartphone.

• An interesting data point: Over 50% of these prospective buyers are in the market for foreign brands. Continue reading ›

Smartphones, TV, Online Video Can Be Partners in Automotive Purchase Process

Smartphones are taking on a bigger role in both lead generation for dealers and in the entire auto purchase process for consumers, according to research and survey data presented by several digital-savvy speakers at the 2011 Automotive Internet Roundtable. Several speakers also indicated that reinforcing marketing messages through the use of several platforms—such as combining TV and the Internet—increases message retention significantly. Key points from some of the presentations at this year’s comprehensive 2-day event in Las Vegas, NV, which was attended by 1,250 industry members—the highest number of participants to attend any of the J.D. Power Automotive Internet conferences—will be featured in several posts today and during the next few weeks.

Improving Lead Response Quality and Time and Close Rates Benefits ROI

Sujata Sontakke

Sales lead volume has increased, and more customers are requesting quotes this year, according to research conducted by Urban Science. Jody Stidham, global practice director for the retail sales network consulting firm, based in Detroit, MI, told participants at the 2011 Automotive Internet Roundtable that there is a positive correlation between retail sales and lead volume. Stidham covered key points from research based on analysis of 4 million leads that considered the quality and quantity of leads, close rates, and dealer response to leads. Continue reading ›