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Auto dealership market can be well set up by tapping into the lifestyle of the Millennials as well as the Hispanics, because they are going to drive the automotive economy for the better part of 21st century. They can form a strong customer base depending on the sole fact that they will be the customers of today, tomorrow, and many more decades to come.
Growing up in an intensely technological era has caused millennials to adhere to technological speed very strongly. Since they are a product of the times they grew up in, they are naturally inclined towards anything that technology offers – faster connectivity, convenience, and up-to-date features.
As for the Hispanic consumers, they could well be the auto industry’s leading growth-driver for the next 20-30 years. According to a report by AMDS Geoscape 2015, between 2015 and 2020 the Hispanic population would grow by 1,637,800 per year. Considering the fact that Hispanic households are bigger and many Hispanic millennials still live with their parents, it can present an ideal opportunity for car dealers to sell more cars to the same household and also get more referrals from this close-knit community.
Of the 5.9% overall sales growth in the automotive industry in 2014, Hispanics alone contributed 15% of it. The average age of Hispanics buying their first car is 30 years compared to non-Hispanic’s average age of 42 years. Also, with the increase in their household income, Hispanics are not just limiting themselves to entry-level cars but are also foraying into the luxury brand market.
How to appeal to both the groups?
There are certain imperatives that car dealers ought to keep in mind that can enhance their appeal to sell to these two groups of buyers:
- Since the Millennial buyer is more updated with store inventory and pricing from online sites, they would usually do their homework before fixing on the type of car they want to buy and from which dealer to buy. Hence dealers need to ensure their inventory is merchandised correctly on all the third-party auto sites as well as their website too. They need to be upfront and updated with their information from where the millennial buyer can choose from.
- The buyers from these two sets of demographics are especially tech-savvy people. A focus on the technology and the performance part of the vehicle would generate interest among the buyers
- This generation is heavily dependent on online media. Therefore, web, mobile, social and gaming media are the easiest channels to market to them. Presence of automotive companies on these media should be strong enough or else they would end up losing a share of their customer’s heart.
- In addition to looking forward to generous warranties, this generation is also keen on fuel economy, and the availability of eco- and technology-friendly features. So while engaging a customer, a dealer needs to keep these as imperatives.
- Create a memorable experience for the buyers. For example, while trying to sell a car to Hispanics, it’s important to have a bilingual sales team to facilitate their car purchase.
- This generation of buyers expects fast transactions including online documentation for sales and financing. Also, since this age group continues to grow well financially, they would need aggressive financing plans that the dealer would need to keep in mind.
These demographics are fast becoming aggressive car buyers and the best-selling factor that can influence them is an all-informed data from which they can form their own opinion. A well designed Car Dealer App is one of the most powerful channels to reach out to this tech-savvy population
The automotive market is moving from a product-driven approach to a customer-centric approach to drive customer loyalty and to adapt to changing customer behavior and expectations. There are a lot of factors that make automakers and automotive retailers to rethink their current business model—the rise of new mobility concepts, shifting mobility preferences such as private and business-car sharing, uprise of electric vehicles, and an increasing use of used cars and fleet. Customers are well-informed with unlimited access to media and information. Marketing strategies should be planned with focus in and around this fact.
What are the drivers of this paradigm shift?
There are multiple drivers that show that automotive retail is undergoing a substantial change.
- Changes in customer behavior: rise of social media and mobile technologies has altered the way customers interact and communicate.
- Digitization has brought a revolutionary change in the sales and service process, including the need for customization and new mobility preferences.
- Innovative products pressurize upgradation of sales and service processes: with technology taking an upper hand in creating more complex cars, the sales and service staff is expected to reach higher levels of technological know-how.
- Current business model challenged: traditional dealership models in correspondence to financial sustainability are in question. This is because consolidated network model has led to significant increase in competition.
- Stricter regulations: Emission standards, safety standards, and sales & repair legislations are strictly considered. Hence auto retailers are increasingly planning their marketing strategies that revolve around these regulations.
How does the retail system plan the change?
There are marked changes in the automotive retail ecosystem and operating environment that are forcing automakers and dealers to make changes in the retail model:
- Managing trust and complexity through a customer life cycle
- Creating an engaging digital experience
- Redesigning shifting networks
- Crafting a multi-channel brand management strategy
What does the future hold?
Brands need to invest in retail strategies that are into multichannel retailing because that is where the future of this industry lies. Also there is increasing usage of big data and analytics in this field. While a Frost & Sullivan report suggests that 50-60% of sales leads are expected to come through digital means by 2016, about 5% of all cars will be sold online by 2020. Some car companies are already selling cars online via car dealership app. New store formats such as online and boutique stores, flagship stores or experience stores let buyers experience buying cars similar to a coffee shop experience. They also allow original equipment manufacturers to reach out to consumers and generate sales. In totality in the near future buying a car would be as easy as shopping for apparel, gadgets and food.
This warrants companies investing to create an engaging digital experience spanning the web and mobile media. More so, they need to give customers the confidence through an engaging digital experience. Therefore they need to chalk out exclusive digital strategies. Businesses also need to leverage customer analytics so that they proactively address opportunities and mitigate risks. Large amounts of data generated from customer interactions will be analyzed to impact all facets of the retail organization, ranging from identifying relevant customer touch points to marketing campaigns and sales forecasting.