The automobile industry has been actively innovating its marketing efforts, immersing itself in technology and community. They have significant challenges in attracting new drivers while keeping their existing drivers happy and loyal. At the same time they have a rapidly evolving business model and legacy challenges such as exhaustive dealer networks and paralysing trade unions. As such, car companies are looking at alternative ways of connecting and engaging with consumer and customers.
The biggest marketing challenges is recruiting the next generation driver. Beyond being a lot more informed and more value conscious (not necessarily price only), these new drivers are interacting with Brands differently. When it comes to young guys, a much untapped forum to connect is gaming. Many car Brands have toyed with gaming, but none have (as far as I know) made it a central part of their marketing strategy. However, when it comes to recruitment, you want to have people experience the drive and gaming allows you to do that. I recall an interesting app done by VW a few years back that allowed people to “test” the Golf.
Recently, Kia launched a similar but much more engaging gaming experience where the community both creates race tracks and then races against others on those tracks. The social gaming program put their new GT in the centre of a highly innovative and addictive gaming universe. Moreover, the difficulty of the tracks was extreme given that they were created by gamers and thus the true performance of the car could be perfectly demonstrated. Have a look at the case study.
Loyalty is paramount in the car business because once most people purchase a Brand they tend to stick with it. Therefore, keeping your existing drivers part of your community and thus family is critical. For this reason social is of such importance to car marketers. However, to keep consumers not just engaged but in love with you, Brands need to open up more of their “traditional” marketing levers to their consumers. Mini did exactly this by allowing their drivers to be the official test drivers of an unreleased model – something that would have previously been solely granted to car journalists and the like. Have a look.