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Alex MacLeod
Alex MacLeod

Make Cars Fit into Consumers’ Lives, not Vice Versa

Disrupting an industry that has been one way throughout history is difficult.

It’s no secret auto brands and marketers are emphasizing customer experience and the increasing importance of direct-to-consumer channels.

But while many brands may believe this is about making newer trend-laden cars, Lynk & Co. – a hybrid positioned somewhere between a traditional auto brand and ride sharing – claims it’s not about making more cars, but rather revolutionizing how they fit into our lives.

This has to do with how we choose them, drive them and (only) possibly buy them. Lynk gives consumers the benefits of operating a car on their own terms, which is becoming a larger trend in the auto space and retail at large. Within this model there are three key ideas to heed:

Marketing for the future of the automotive retail industry

Any big and established industry is fair game for disruption. A startup with a good idea and funding can marginalize longstanding behemoths.

The key is understanding what the customer wants when designing for the future of any industry, especially the auto industry.

While traditional car brands need to market to a wide customer base, they often mistake dealers as being their primary customer. The connection between brands and dealers has led to a contrived relationship between the auto industry and perhaps their most important customer: the end user.

When speaking with younger, urban and progressive drivers, it’s clear: They like driving. They like cars. But they hate the buying, financing, insuring, parking and servicing aspects. It’s why many people in this demographic prefer ride hailing or have simply rejected cars completely.

Changing the overall customer experience

How can you set a new CX standard for automotive? It’s no longer just about changing the interface of a particular car. It’s about creating an experience for young drivers with different preferences.

Make choosing a car as easy as choosing a phone. With a brand like Lynk, everything is digitally designed with a customer-first mindset. Buying a car, borrowing one or subscribing to a mobility plan is as easy as swipe-and-click.

Standing out in a market that is saturated with similarity

I won’t go as far as some to say the dealership model is dead. It clearly still has a way to go. However, automakers will see a shift. To stay ahead of new trends, they must take control of the customer relationship.

With the industry entrenched in technology, customer experience and user experience, automakers should adjust the way they market to a new customer base.

The direct-to-consumer model can’t be ignored, and that’s already creating a lot of issues, as it did with other retail sectors over the past decade.

Automakers must decide what role physical retail is going to play for them and how they can square things with dealer networks when they’re selling directly to consumers.

Disrupting an industry that has been one way throughout history is difficult. Lynk started with a blank canvas and made no compromises. There was a clear demand for a service, a brand and an operating model that wasn’t all about cars themselves, but about people.

Other auto brands should follow suit or fall behind in a changing market. To remain relevant with an ever-changing customer base, automakers truly need to listen to customers.

Alex MacLeod is the global digital director at FITCH, a brand and retail consultancy.

TAGS: Dealers
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