According to Aswin Mannepalli, Global Director of Industry Strategy and Marketing at Sitecore, the automotive industry is about to experience the full impact of generational transition. As Millennials and Gen Z become the biggest group of car buyers in the next five years, he said that “the automotive landscape is set to change more than it has in the past century — and customer experience (CX) will be a central battleground.”
For dealerships and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), customer-centricity and building a sound understanding of these new buyers’ priorities must be the most important part of their customer engagement strategy. Millennial and Gen Z customers differ from previous generations in several ways, but their prioritization of experiences combined with their preference for digital interaction are major upheavals for the automotive industry.
In the recent Automotive Customer Report, Publicis Sapient, Microsoft, and Sitecore joined forces to analyze customer trends throughout the automotive industry. “A clear theme that bubbled up from the research is the impact that generational transition will have on the automotive world,” said Mannepalli. The newer car buying generation wants a digital-first experience. This means that dealerships and OEMs will have to adapt by integrating digital channels not only during the purchase process but throughout the lifecycle of vehicle ownership. Mannepalli noted that the traditional test-drive is no longer an essential part of the purchasing process for Gen Z and Millennials. These customers want to take advantage of innovations such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in place of a traditional test drive. These changing customer preferences extend beyond the dealership to the extent that new car buyers are ready to buy directly from OEMs through website, apps, and other digital channels.
This culture shift driven by Millennials and Gen Z to prioritize digital interactions is redefining the automotive industry. Both dealerships and OEMs have already experienced a taste of this digital transformation during the pandemic and now have the opportunity to embrace these changes to meet the next generation of customers where they are. In doing so, not only will they make the sale today, but be perfectly positioned to build customer loyalty for the long term.
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