By Michael Bertie, Ipsos MMA SVP Analytic Consulting
Do you remember your first experience buying a car? I certainly do. Within 5 minutes of introducing himself, and as if reading from a script of a bad movie, the salesman hit me with: “What can I do to get YOU in THIS car?”, as he leaned against the side of the latest showroom offering. Needless to say, he didn’t close the deal.
Rhetoric aside, interacting with a salesperson is just one facet of the complicated auto sales cycle. All industries feature their own set of complexities, unique ecosystems and myriad drivers of consumer demand that require the attention of Marketers. However, few, if any, are quite as distinct and multifaceted as the Automotive industry.
In 2019, Auto OEMs in the U.S. and globally are faced with a constantly evolving series of headwinds and tailwinds that can stunt or energize sales:
- Shifting consumer preferences (electric/eco-friendly vehicles, decreased demand in Cars vs. SUVs and Trucks)
- Intense competition and tariffs
- New vehicle launches, major/minor launches of existing vehicles, sunsetting of legacy nameplates
- Stock Market volatility and fluctuating gas prices
- The ever-expanding universe of media channels and consumer touchpoints
- Reduced Marketing budgets, coupled with increasing media costs
- Pricing and Incentives offers
- Safety ratings
- Customer Reviews
The above, of course, is just scratching the surface and compounding these challenges are the demands on Auto OEM Marketers to achieve a broad variety of strategic and tactical goals:
- Hitting sales targets across Brands and Nameplates, and driving margins
- Creating brand and nameplate awareness and excitement
- Building the brand
- Allocating incremental investments efficiently across Brands, Nameplates, and Media channels
- Balancing budget allocations efficiently across Paid Media and Incentives
- Driving Earned and Owned Media performance
- Increasing showroom foot traffic, test drives and website visits
Sounds fun, right? If you are an Auto OEM Marketer, you are probably nodding your head and thinking, “Yep, sounds like a ‘Tuesday’ to me.” So how can you possibly wrap your arms around these myriad of questions and permutations of drivers to know that you are planning, executing and measuring your marketing plans in the most efficient and effective means possible?
To help work through the clutter, try to focus on these key principles:
- Think holistically Do I truly understand the impact of all drivers of my sales and my brand’s health? Am I properly accounting for factors beyond my control (e.g. Economy, Competitive behaviors, etc.), or operational factors that I don’t control but drive my business (e.g. inventory levels, price changes)? If the answer is yes, you are very likely over-attributing the impact of Marketing on to sales, which is likely resulting in some wrong decisions being made during your planning process.
- Plan strategically Measurement and analytics can provide a treasure trove of insights into Marketing’s past performance, but those insights really don’t mean very much if you cannot use them to strategically plan on a forward-looking basis. Allocating budget across countries, brands, nameplates, regions/DMA, as well as across key marketing and media channels require a (holistic) measurement and planning platform that allows you to not just predict future performance but also to optimize your investments in conjunction with a myriad of assumptions.
- Execute and adapt efficiently The best laid plans can often go awry, especially in Auto Marketing. New campaigns and creative may not resonate as well as expected; CPMs for strategic publishers may suddenly change, driving costs to outweigh benefits; new technologies or regulations (hello GDPR!) may surface that change your thinking. The ability to measure and optimize Marketing performance at a granular, consumer level is no longer just a nice-to-have, it is a critical methodology that Auto Marketers require to succeed.
That may sound like a lot and, well, it is. Fortunately, though, you don’t need to go at it alone. At Ipsos-MMA, our predictive analytics platforms are customized for the uniqueness of the Auto industry, and our consultants are ready to partner with you in designing an approach and change management program that fits your needs.
Take a breath and think about what you do well, and where you may be falling short. Then drop us a note or give us a call – we can set up a discussion with our Automotive consultants so we can determine how we can best help.