Automotive Sector

Redefining the role of automotive brands

Having navigated the abyss of 2008, the automotive industry is seeing better times. What’s around the corner may make that market disruption seem like a speed bump.

The industry and consumer psyche is being transformed. New markets (especially in the East). New regulations driving new products with eco-conscious credentials. New entrants from Asia and The Valley, both with a focus on luxury and eDrive technology. New business models. And the most disruptive trend of all, a new mindset.

Include telemetrics and driver-assist technology (which one, digital-day, promises driverless journeys) these developments will blur the boundaries between previously distinct industries.

Enter the fray players with financial muscle and nimble cultures, like Google, Apple and Uber.  Energy companies, urban planners, visionary dotcom entrepreneurs, OEMs, all see a role for themselves. Partners or competitors, or both? No wonder BMW, Audi and Daimler acquired Nokia’s geo-mapping technology. The future business model may be in the connectivity and what you can do on the journey in a driverless world.

New retail formats see boutiques pop-up in luxury malls, blended with online experiences. Electric becomes a club or subscription model. Sold as an eco-lifestyle with electric bikes and bicycles and who knows, maybe home management systems with an eco-conscience. How long before Apple is offering car-sharing with quick-pay, bundled insurance and your favourite playlist and address book synchronised for instant voice dialling and sat-nav and the car's systems optimised to your driving preferences? 

And then there's mass-urbanisation forcing a re-evaluation of car ownership. Include an aging population, polarisation between haves and the aspiring – trade-up, trade-down… so, small goes luxury. And the back seat gets make-over for Asian markets, where the affluent can afford private drivers.

There's winning over the Millennial and Gen Z – part individualist and part-identity defined by tribe – humanist, inclusive. Robo-taxis. Uber. AirBnB. Hello to the sharing economy.

Does the consumer go all electric or hybrid? Stay petrol-head for a few more years or risk being irrelevant in the rush to electrification? Is mobility about freedom, success and individualism or personal mobility solutions and connected services, or belonging to an eco-conscious tribe? Is it about drive or ride? Journey or connectivity… or productivity, creativity, relaxation? Branding, marketing and customer engagement is up for re-invention.

Against this backdrop we’re working with major marques to redefine the customer journey – creating a new narrative – for an intrigued and expectant public. Because, how much longer will there be a dealer network, as we know it today? Or, will car festivals and gala events with multiple marques show-cased prevail - all wrapped up in omni-channel communications. Our work with new-gen dealer events, press launches, exhibitions and road shows (akin to developer events for the growing community of partners that will add value to the automotive eco-system) is helping brands define and curate their role as a mobility provider. 

Further reading