Shashank Srivastava, executive director (Marketing & Sales), Maruti Suzuki
India said that nearly 45 per cent of the enquiries today are coming from digital channels, up from 13 per cent in 2018-19. “As an organisation we are working on a phygital model, where there is a balance between digital interface and actual dealership showrooms,” he added.
The auto companies
have devised several digital interventions in the car purchase journey, in honour of the new consumer. For instance Srivastava said that at Maruti, digital insights helped design content marketing strategies to engage with customers. He points to content creation initiatives on Nexa Music that acts as a platform for young talent. “We are using interesting ways to engage with our consumers like the ‘Call Ranveer’ campaign that lets customers talk to their favourite celebrity. Our recent campaign on Swift Limitless Stories is another interesting example,” he said. Such initiatives help put a face to the brand’s otherwise faceless virtual presence.
At Honda, the challenge was launching the fifth generation Honda City
during a pandemic. According to Goel, the company tracked content consumption patterns and customised its marketing content to suit the different stages of the purchase journey online.
Nissan took to social media to announce the date for the digital world premier of the SUV Ariya
Apart from using customer data to reduce friction in the online sales process, companies
have also focused on a smooth buying experience. BMW
recently launched BMW
Contactless Experience, which its spokesperson said, helps customers explore, select and buy a car without stepping out of their homes.
There is little doubt that auto companies
have expanded the digital footprint significantly and have been innovative with the marketing hooks too. But how effective are they? Companies are using AR and VR, but these have become more of ‘good to have’ showcase aids, without enabling any meaningful conversations about the car and sales conversion, according to the EY report. What is missing is an integrated platform for dealers, auto makers and the aggregator websites that would be able to convert many more explorers into long term loyalists.
Companies are working towards that end according to both Goel and Shrivastava. “Unlike other commodities, car ownership journey doesn’t end at purchase but it paves path for the beginning of a long association between customer and dealer, as car maintenance is a crucial ownership requirement which is provided by dealers through the years of ownership,” Goel said, emphasising the need for the two to work together in the phygital model.