LAS VEGAS — Vehicle subscription services have been touted as an alternative for consumers whod rather have a buffet of options instead of being locked down to one vehicle.

But Hyundai marketing chief Dean Evans said most consumers dont need that much choice.

And if they find themselves in a spot where they need a vehicle with a little more versatility, Evans said, they can simply rent an SUV for the weekend.

"You cant financially make it work," Evans said of subscriptions, during a discussion with media at the J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable last week.

"You can try with luxury, like Cadillac and Audi are doing. Sure, at $1,500, you can do it," he said, but "you cant do it for mainstream and have a $399, $499, $599 or even $699 [subscription fee]. You just cant make it pencil. We dont want to start paying to give cars away."

The subscription discussion was just one of many interesting insights and ideas to emerge from the J.D. Power event. Heres a rundown of some of the topics:

Bots that learn

Hyundai deployed chat bots to engage Kona, Veloster and Santa Fe shoppers in online conversations before those vehicles hit dealerships this year. The bots were housed in special landing pages on Hyundais website. A bot for the Veloster N, which is expected to arrive before the end of the year, is still active.

The automaker learned that the bots, which were programmed to provide users with information on features and help them set up test drives, were able to understand user input and provide a relevant response 92.9 percent of the time.

In addition, 27.7 percent of users clicked "tell me more" when the bot offered the option.

The bots dont just figure out answers to questions, they also learn on the go.

"The bot will analyze its own interactions, how successful it was at answering a users question and itll apply that to the next user interaction," said Patrick Leber, senior digital manager for Innocean, Hyundais ad agency.

"Consumers are getting more used to landing on a page and then saying, Im looking for this, can you help me? " he said. "Its a more guided experience."

Augmented reality

While Snapchat is conducive to ads that tell stories within a few seconds, BMW leveraged the platform last fall to provide an immersive experience with the X2 crossover that reached users across the world.

BMW was the first brand to use Snapchats "augmented trial lens," which placed a 3D version of the X2 in front of users when they peered through their phones. Users could do a virtual walkaround, change the color and get an up-close look before it hit showrooms.

"Think about how much more engaging this is than going to a website like bmw.com," said Jeff Miller, Snapchats global head of creative strategy. "Youre getting an experience that is showing intent and giving the opportunity to learn more."

Miller said Ford Canada also used Snapchats augmented reality tool to highlight the EcoSport. In addition to the virtual walkaround, Ford gave users the ability to enter the car and view its interior.

Funnels arent funnels

The number of brands that consumers consider doesnt get smaller as their shopping journeys progress, according to the Nielsen Auto Marketing Report.

The company, known for its TV ratings system, reports that at the one- to two-year mark before a purchase, people have two to three brands under consideration. That number then grows to five brands when a consumer is ready to buy, with millennials more likely than other groups to add to their consideration list.

Nielsen said the finding is important because it shows that potential buyers are open to considering more brands despite having a "top of mind" option.

Nielsen also reminded marketers of the power of old media, such as direct mail.

"You can personalize it, it shows up to your house ... it just sits there," said Ameneh Atai, Nielsens senior vice president of business development. "If youre looking to buy a car, youll look at it and youll remember it."

Seeking more from video

Video is no longer just a branding tool, said Kelly McNearney, Googles senior automotive retail strategist.

In the final weeks before purchase, McNearney said, shoppers are watching vehicle walkarounds, comparisons and feature-focused videos to narrow down their choices. Google research has found that 88 percent of video watchers knew what they were buying when they visited a dealership, compared with 78 percent for those who didnt watch a video.

"Even two weeks before purchase, theyre watching five different YouTube videos trying to make the decision," McNearney said. "These arent ads. These are people seeking automotive content on YouTube to help make their ultimate decisions."

Keyword coordination

Only around 2.3 percent of car shoppers have Kia on their consideration lists when theyre six months out from making a purchase.

That presents a challenge for Kia marketers and their limited ad budget. So Kia is working with Google to determine which search keywords dealers should focus on for their marketing efforts. This ensures that Kia and its dealers dont waste money going after the same search terms.

Kia dealers have performed well on searches when shoppers are trying to figure out where to buy. "Were not tripping over each others toes," said John Schurger, national manager of retail marketing at Kia Motors America, "and were doing a better job of covering all potential keywords that we can within the confines of our budget."

Source: Autonews

October 29, 2018