Consumers are turning to a variety of online and offline services to help them make car-buying decisions because industry websites do not satisfy their needs, a global survey by Accenture has revealed.
The survey, which involved 13,000 drivers from 11 countries who were aged 18 and up and owned a car, found that consumers believe the car-buying process would be easier and quicker if auto industry website content was customised to be more relevant to their specific buying preferences and if online innovations such as web chat and mobile-friendly websites were employed.
In Malaysia, where 1,000 respondents took part in the survey, car buyers visit an average of 11 different websites prior to making a purchase, with almost 10% visiting over 21 websites. 81% review other consumers’ feedback online, 78% look at Google ads and 70% visit manufacturer’s websites.
With 80% of Malaysian respondents agreeing that car dealers have not utilised online digital marketing to its full potential, Accenture believes the findings show a lack of integrated digital marketing in the industry.
“A consistent customer experience is vital to the online-offline sales process, an area in which the auto industry is notably lagging other sectors in the eyes of the consumer,” said Accenture ASEAN products operation MD Lee Won-Joon. “At a time when digital marketers are utilising algorithms to predict what online visitors want to know, automakers should be better able to shape web content that is more user-centric.”
The survey also found that Malaysian drivers want easier and clearer pricing (88%), intuitive communication (80%) and easier configuration/tailored offers (77%), as well as to see special offers (80%), after-sales extras (78%), part exchange upgrades (77%) and special maintenance offers (72%) made available online.
Factors that influenced car-buying decisions for those surveyed in Malaysia include offline information reviews (60%), social media (59%) and advice from friends and family (53%).
“In our experience, car buyers are open to post-sales activities such as loyalty programme memberships and enrolment in maintenance plans,” said Accenture Malaysia auto industry MD Terence Foo. “Success with these programmes can be enhanced through the use of customised landing pages that are based on customer demographics, personal preferences and previous interactions.”
Better use of digital marketing, Accenture says, could increase auto sector topline sales by 1-2%. It adds that in each of the markets polled (which included both developed and emerging) the level of digital penetration has created an appetite among buyers for using digital channels.
Accenture concludes that carmakers must tap into the power of mobile internet and enable their dealers to embrace digital technologies to eventually create a ‘virtual dealership’ that will provide an end-to-end purchase capability online.
Other Malaysian findings include:
- Malaysians are less inclined to use online information compared to respondents from other countries, indicating a need for carmakers and dealers to improve customer online experience.
- 24% (compared to 18% globally) visit a dealer and do additional web-based research before making their decision.
- Lower satisfaction levels of online communications with a dealer than in other markets.
- 14% (compared to 29% globally) willing to skip dealer contact, 57% fairly willing, 70% fairly willing if fully dedicated information via a website or call centre was available.
- 58% interested in chatting with dealers online to make purchase process easier (Germany 81%).
- 50% would consider car buying, financial and whole transaction online.
- 65% would possibly undertake the purchase process online (South Korea 96%).
while the breakdown of the Malaysian respondents polled is as follows:
- Age of respondent – 18-24 (22%), 25-35 (33%), 36-45 (28%), 46-55 (8%), 56-65 (5%), over 65 (4%).
- Age of car owned – under 1 year old (7%), 1-2 years old (47%), 2-3 years old (18%), over 3 years old (28%).