Dealers may have an opportunity to boost customer loyalty and revenue by offering free trials of connected services, research suggests.
A 2023 study by S&P Global Mobility found 28% of consumer respondents either did not know connected services were available and/or the dealer did not offer or even mention the services. Initial exposure is critical to win over customers, notes Yanina Mills, senior technical research analyst at S&P Global.
“The best way to expose consumers to anything is to offer it for free,” Mills tells Wards. “Especially when there is very little effort as far as activation goes.”
The global survey of 8,000 consumers found 82% of respondents in a subset of 4,500 who had experienced a free trial or an existing subscription on a 2016 model or newer vehicle would “definitely” or “probably” consider purchasing subscription-based services on a future new vehicle.
“Consumers are welcoming to the idea of subscriptions because it gives them exposure to features or technology that they may not have had in the past,” says Mills.
And when consumers subscribe to such connected services, dealers can offer them optimized maintenance packages or deals on basics, including tire rotations and oil changes. If the manufacturer shares the connected service data showing the vehicle’s actual condition, the dealer has even more opportunity to sell services to the customer.
Of course, dealers need to target customers based on demographics. A mass offer from a large dealer group for specific products would likely fail and may cause customer dissatisfaction.
For example, a heated seat option probably wouldn’t be very value-added in Florida, Mills says.
And, of course, assumptions can sink opportunities. Even if a dealer doesn’t think a consumer fits a target demographic for such a service, it’s essential to mention and offer it.
The demographic that wasn’t aware of the connected car services "'fell into the female and older' segment,” she says.
“Dealerships are the customer touchpoint. It is the dealership’s job to help expose (customers) to (the connected-car services) by being proactive.”