Car manufacturers know that certain postcodes prefer certain marques. Leafy Suburbs are typically associated with Volvos and SUVs, trendy zones 2 with economically run-arounds and central with statement purchase -from supercars to electric roadsters.
It’s no wonder that hyperlocal communication is used and works well. In particular live events.
Car manufacturers have been using neighbourhood events for many years. This form of presenting new models takes months in preparation. But it is worth it, as it allows residents to experience the car, it’s interior and arrange a test drive then and there.
It allows out-of-town dealerships to connect with local audience and leverage word-of-mouth amongst neighbours. It facilitates the all-important conversation and builds emotional link with the brand even if there was no immediate purchase. It’s a car sponsored street party. Less popular in London but very popular in secondary cities and on the continent,
It does require 3 elements to work well:
- Great knowledge of the local audience
- Consistent delivery of an impeccable service
- Close-knit neighbourhood that talks to each other
The first one may be easy, but the level of difficulty increases as you go down the list. In the Capital in some areas people don’t know the first name of their neighbour. This in some cases is now even true in outer areas and suburbs. So the essential element of successful WOM (Word of Mouth) campaign is missing.
If you visited a dealership lately you know what a time consuming process it may be. The person that served you may be knowledgeable, professional and overall lovely but the process they have to adhere to impact your experience. So you leave tired, at best frustrated in more extreme situation.
And car buying is highly emotional and therefore the experience plays a huge part.
Let’s assume you are looking to own a car. If you are at a consideration phase you may be looking at different brands. In a traditional approach you will have to commit good few weekends to register and hopefully test drive few models you have pre-selected from different car manufacturers.
What if a car brand came to you, but instead of having an annual street event it would actually allow you to use the car?
A car parked few streets away from you that allows you do drive to a shop, see how the car handles and how easy it is to park.
I think this is the future of test drives.
The out-of-town dealerships as we know are becoming thing of the past. High street stores and showroom in shopping centres aim to entice us when we are in the shopping mode (Tesla, Range Rover Jaguar and Hyundai). Driving experiences like Range Rovers off road or Mercedes’ track events. Top this of with Car Clubs curated by marques or operated as a stand alone business.
Those changing business models have also adopted new sales techniques. Social media is now an integral part of their communication campaign. Apps are utilised to cultivate engagement post purchase. Digital screens and ipads help you configure the car in-store.
Whilst change has entered the traditional sector the media is also aligning. Mass marketing will still play an important role for industry. The test drive will in my opinion call for a more flexible medium. Social media served that purpose well, but with radio, TV and outdoor allowing more fractional trading I see great opportunity for Flow City.
So the next time you find yourself considering a roadster or a 4X4 a digital screen near you will tell you where is the nearest one and how long you can borrow it for.