June 11, 2020
By Laura DiCaprio
As the U.S. begins to open back up in stages, the market is slowly starting to recover. With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the automotive industry particularly hard (Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai reporting double-digit sales losses in May 2020 compared to May 2019), news of the economy’s recovery offers hope that manufacturers and dealers will start to experience production and sale increases in the upcoming months. Although it will take time for the industry to fully recover, the New York Times recently pinpointed areas of opportunity and growth for the category, including a higher demand for electric vehicles, opportunities for start-ups, and potential partnerships with other technologies.
Google recently released 5 Trends Shaping the Auto Industry’s Approach to a New Normal, to help the automotive category prepare for what’s ahead. We’re taking this article one step further, to share how backing three of these trends with appropriate media tactics will help the automotive industry make a solid recovery.
- People are finding comfort in car ownership. Some people are leery of public transportation as COVID-19 contamination still poses risks, and they’re turning to their own vehicles for their daily commutes. Others are canceling flights and opting for long drives, to avoid large crowds. As marketers this poses an opportunity to take a look at our clients’ messaging to make sure we’re speaking to our audience’s concerns and new areas of focus. Video ads, which create emotional connections with the consumer, would be an effective medium for communicating this comfort message. *Source - Think with Google, Cars.com, Ride-Sharing Drops, Online Car Shopping Increases in Coronavirus’ Wake, March 30, 2020.
- People expect to find car deals. If people are expecting to find car deals, your dealership needs to be within their consideration set. This is delivered with a high-frequency media plan that keeps your brands top-of-mind, and a strong presence on search to be in front of customers when they’re actively searching for deals on specific makes and models. The combination of these two mediums will keep your brand relevant in the mind of the consumer and provide the appropriate information when they’re actively searching for car buying opportunities.
U.S.-based search interest for ‘is it a good time to buy a car’*Source: Think with Google, Google Trends, U.S., Jan. 2020–April 2020.
- People are turning to digital events. Although we’re not quite ready for in-person auto shows and big weekend clearance events, the same audience that might have attended these sales can still be reached via virtual events. These can be hosted on dealership websites or social media channels, and promoted with paid social media ads and promoted posts. The granular targeting capabilities on social media allow advertisers to target ads to car enthusiasts and/or people interested in purchasing a new car, which means less waste for your campaign. Social media ads also encourage engagement between brands and consumers, so potential customers start to building a relationship with the dealership before they’ve even visited.
Although sales have declined over the past few months it’s encouraging that things are starting to pick back up and that the industry is adapting to the new climate. We will continue to monitor automotive trends over the Summer, and adjust our media recommendations so that they reflect changes in the industry.