Third-Party Auto Website Executives Offer Insight on Business Models

Automotive Marketing Roundtable 2013 DSC_4280-SThird-party automotive website executives offered their observations about vehicle price transparency during a panel discussion at the October J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable (AMR) in Las Vegas, NV. More excerpts from the panel discussion that was moderated by Joel Ewanick, former automotive marketing executive and now managing partner of Global Auto Systems, are highlighted in today’s post.

 Moderator: Joel Ewanick, managing partner, Global Auto Systems, Inc.

Panel Members:

Seth Berkowitz, president and COO, Edmunds.com

Larry Dominique, executive vice president, TrueCar, Inc.

Jared Rowe, President, Kelley Blue Book

Alex Vetter, senior vice president, Cars.com

Joel: You’re very different in how you collect your data—so tell me Seth (Edmunds) why is your data so much better than their data?

 Seth (Edmunds): “I guess we see ourselves across the panel as being least competitive with Cars.com. We respect what they are doing: with the classifieds industry and what they have done in used cars—that’s not really our core space. That might change in the future. I think our biggest differences are with TrueCar and with Kelley Blue Book. . . While we were the company 20 years ago that introduced invoice price, and published it for the first time, we’re actually moving in a completely different direction. . . We are going to have dealers provide actual prices on individual vehicles and then we are going to tell what other people are paying. We have our Price-Promise program, now where you get those actual prices. . . Over the coming months, you’re going to see invoice stripped off behind warning labels where you have to click to get it because we believe that it’s not servicing people anymore and it creates confusion.”

Alex (Cars.com): “Putting a price on a transaction that we know is wildly complex creates distrust in the industry. The expectation that this is the price you are going to pay—is not something that any website [represented] here can actually deliver because so much goes into the pricing at the retail store. We rely on dealer participation to drive that pricing.” Continue reading ›

Marketing Exec Leads Internet Site Panel in Discussing Price Transparency

Price negotiation for most consumers is often described as one of the most arduous parts of the purchase process, according to Joel Ewanick, managing partner of Global Automotive Systems, Inc. The former GM chief marketing officer led a panel discussion about “Vehicle Price Transparency” with four third-party website executives at the October J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable (AMR) in Las Vegas, NV. Excerpts from the panel discussion are highlighted in this post.

Moderator: Joel Ewanick, managing partner, Global Auto Systems, Inc.

 Panel Members:

Seth Berkowitz, president and COO, Edmunds.com

Larry Dominique, executive vice president, TrueCar, Inc.

Jared Rowe, President, Kelley Blue Book

Alex Vetter, senior vice president, Cars.com

Third-Party Website Leaders Define Business Models

Joel: I see that companies like yours are trying to help the consumer through the process. Can you explain what you do, what your business model is, and then we’ll start to compare and contrast?

Seth (Edmunds): “At Edmunds, we’re working through a major transition. For years, we’ve been an information and pricing authority. We probably have the largest repository of automotive information on the Internet with somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.5 million pages of content. We’ve decided that being this comprehensive encyclopedia of automotive information isn’t enough. . . We’ve decided to make car buying easier. We are going to do this by fostering trust—which is at an all-time low— between consumers and dealers.” Continue reading ›

Satisfaction Surges if Dealers Use Mobile Devices to Enhance Sales Process

Chris Sutton

Chris Sutton

Satisfaction is highest among new-vehicle buyers who are presented with pricing/payment options on a computer screen or a tablet (833 on a 1,000-point scale) during the sales process, according to our 2013 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study, which is based on responses from 29,040 new-vehicle buyers or lessees, who completed their transaction in April or May 2013.

Using technology continues to make a major difference in enhancing the buyer’s or lessee’s sales experience at the dealership. Specifically, when a dealership salesperson uses a tablet device during the sales process with new-vehicle buyers, satisfaction is 52 points higher on average (844) than when a salesperson does not use a tablet during the sales experience (792). Satisfaction with a salesperson using a computer printout (820) receives the next highest score, followed by verbal price quotes (792); and lastly, written figures (780).

Our 2013 U.S. SSI Study finds that tablets are proving to be particularly versatile and effective tools and may help maintain consistency during the sales process, while providing accessible and dynamic product information. Yet, we also see that tablet usage among dealership salespeople remains relatively limited—only 10% of dealership salespeople use these devices. On a positive note, that’s still up from 7% in 2012. Continue reading ›

J.D. Power Roundtable Speaker Defines “Connected Auto Consumers”

Arianne Walker

Arianne Walker

Today’s digital lifestyle has a growing impact on the auto industry. Understanding how consumers who are in the market for a vehicle are “using digital information and how they are connected,” was a key focus in speeches and discussions at the recent J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.

Arianne Walker, senior director of media and marketing solutions at J.D. Power, introduced the October conference with highlights of trends in automotive Internet usage based on J.D. Power research. She also spoke about the rise in digital media consumption and identified how different devices—smartphones and tablets—are being used to gather information mostly at home, but also on the go—smartphones are also used for auto shopping on the dealer lot. Walker also discussed trends in content with social media and video and how traditional companies are reformulating automotive content in new ways. Continue reading ›

Sales Satisfaction Up in Vietnam Market; Test Drive Can Make a Difference

Traffic on Vietnamese StreetOverall satisfaction with the new-vehicle purchase experience at the dealership has improved by 4 points in 2013 to an average 850 points (on a 1,000-point scale) from 846 points in 2012, according to our 2013 Vietnam Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study. Yet, even with this year’s higher satisfaction score, the study finds areas where dealers can improve sales satisfaction, including offering customers a test drive and spending more time with the buyer during the delivery process.

Offering a test drive—which averages 17 minutes in 2013, compared with 19 minutes in 2012 and 21 minutes in 2011—to new-vehicle buyers who visit a dealership in Vietnam can increase customer satisfaction with the sales process, the study finds. Slightly more than one-third (36%) of buyers actually test drive a vehicle. Continue reading ›

Luxury Brands in India Must Reinforce a Premium Image During Sales Experience

Mohit Arora

Mohit Arora

The luxury vehicle market in India has grown in recent years, with premium sales reaching 26,000 units in 2013. This number is expected to triple to 84,000 units by 2020, according to our strategic partner LMC Automotive. In addition, an increase in the number of luxury models available in India, coupled with attractive financial options that enhance affordability, has helped the luxury market to grow.

Success, however, brings with it additional challenges for premium brands. Sales growth adds pressure for luxury brands to differentiate themselves from the mass market brands. According to findings in our 2013 India Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study, overall satisfaction with the sales experience in the luxury segment averages 873 points on a 1,000-point scale. Although the luxury segment average is 31 points higher than the massmarket segment average (842), this index score is not a major differentiator for these brands, based on study results.

The price of luxury vehicles is much higher than the price of mass market vehicles. We see that customers expect luxury brands to provide a truly differentiated experience to enhance the value of ownership of these vehicles. The current network of dealers does not provide the level of differentiation expected to reinforce the premium image of luxury brands among these more demanding customers. Continue reading ›

Sales Growth in the Philippines May Hinder New-Vehicle Sales Satisfaction

Mohit Arora

Mohit Arora

Despite the positive news of strong first-half new-vehicle sales gains in the Philippines—one of Southeast Asia’s smaller automotive markets—overall satisfaction with the new-vehicle purchase experience has declined by nine points from 2012, to 846 (on a 1,000-point scale), according to the 2013 Philippines Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study.

All factors measured in the study post lower index scores than in 2012 with the most notable dip being in the salesperson factor. Continue reading ›

New-Vehicle Buyers in Thailand are More Informed Before Showroom Visits

Traffic on Thai StreetNew-vehicle buyers in Thailand use an average of three sources to gather information before visiting a dealership—up from an average of 2.5 sources in 2012, according to the 2013 Thailand Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study. A larger percentage of Thai new-car buyers also use the Internet (45%) than in the previous year (33%).

A few more highlights from this year’s study:

• Overall sales satisfaction averages 904 (on a 1,000-point scale), a 4-point improvement from 2012. Continue reading ›

Shorter Delivery Times in Japan Increases Sales Satisfaction Levels

Kimoto Taku NEW_C_Lg

Taku Kimoto

Customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle sales experience in Japan has improved as delivery times are nine days shorter on average than in 2012 when there were longer delays in delivery due to the initiation of an eco-car subsidy program, according to our 2013 Japan Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study.

This year, the average time for delivery to buyers of non-hybrid vehicles declines to 28 days from 34 days in 2012, and the delivery time for hybrids drops by 23 days and averages 50 days instead of 73 days. Among Japan’s domestic brands, Toyota—the largest seller of hybrid vehicles in Japan—and Honda, which had its production in 2012 negatively affected by flooding in Thailand, achieve notable reductions in delivery times. Continue reading ›

Sales Satisfaction in Taiwan Remains Flat Even with Market Inducements

TaipeiWEBA majority (85%) of new-vehicle buyers in Taiwan indicated that they received discounts on price, and a higher percentage of buyers also received free accessories and extended warranties from their selling dealer this year compared with 2012, according to our 2013 Taiwan Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study. At the same time, sales satisfaction in 2013 averages 890 points (on a 1,000-point scale), which is unchanged from 2012.

Inducements appear to be more popular this year as new-vehicle sales declined during the first half of the year, mostly driven by an uncertain economic climate, which caused customers to defer their purchase and wait for price cuts and possible government incentives. This year, satisfaction with the deal, one of the seven factors* contributing to satisfaction with the new-vehicle purchase and delivery experience that are examined in this study, has increased the most—up 12 points from 2012. Continue reading ›