The automotive market is an exciting place. The range of cars available, from budget models to luxury vehicles, is unmatched. The UAE is a unique place for automotive marketers, since customer interests here differ from most other places: Efficiency and fuel economy are less relevant, while features, such as power, engine size and integrated technologies are given more emphasis. Market conditions are unique too. Apart from the obvious factors such as the weather and relating technical features, there is the cultural element. Customer segments are smaller and more defined but with less overlap than in other markets. The specs of a car sold here are different to what they are in Europe and the US – even differing between models available in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. International campaigns cover high-level specifications of new models well but are not always relevant to this market. With specific target audiences to reach, communications have to be tailored. So how can automotive marketers make it? Here are a few steps to get started.
Map the consideration process
As with any other high-value lifestyle product, consumers put considerable effort into research when buying a new car. In fact, the purchase process starts well before the decision to buy. While the traditional model of Awareness, Consideration, Negotiation and Final Purchase is valid, the traditional platforms where these steps take place are changing rapidly. YouTube has become one of the most popular search engines and the usage of shopping and review apps on tablets and smartphones increased by 174 percent in 2014. Over 50 percent of mobile searches are conducted in the hope of finding local listings and 62 percent of those searches result in a purchase. Video content and local search listing are essential for marketers.
Identify the pain points
Knowing your audience is paramount. A potential car buyer will have very different frustrations in Dubai, or other Emirates. Expat lifestyle creates a unique set of questions; what type of car is right for me; how long will I use this car, is there information available about the variety of models; can I get real-life, local reviews and so on. Helping customers overcome these frustrations by providing easily accessible information will give you an advantage. Understanding the specific purchasing behavior of audiences in local market makes for a more defined segment and better channeling of marketing budgets.
Define a communication plan
Successful marketing essentially depends on the pain points identified and will define the role of your content. Addressing those “expat” questions will deliver impact and raise awareness. Knowing how to structure packages that strike a cord will clarify the campaign message. Easy to find, engaging content covering the right features will make the model more appealing during the consideration process. Endorsements and third party reviews will clarify queries about after-sale and customers service. Key messages and types of content matched to the right platforms will ensure real engagement at every stage and beyond the sale. Unlike traditional advertising, the right content will be useful and effective as long as the model is sold.
Create content centered on your audiences’ interests and be authentic
Advertising and social media platforms are saturated with content. Surviving the “5-second skip” is one of the hardest things for automotive marketers. Consumers are receptive to content that applies to them. If it doesn’t seem relevant immediately, they won’t watch or engage with it. Understanding the target segments’ interest is key. If data tells you the key audience is young families, pushing performance features will not work.
Authenticity is also important. Audiences are becoming immune to over-produced commercials. If it feels staged or far removed from “real life”, it will not get the clicks. Entertain and engage your audience with the features that apply to them
Get endorsement from local influencers and don’t forget about customer service
Digital communities influence decisions. Once the selection is made to buy one car over the other, consumers will look for validation before purchasing. They will want to reaffirm the thoughts and feelings about the brand, model and see what kind of associations are out there.
Using real-life reviews from bloggers who feature the car in their daily life is an effective way to position the brand and model.
In short, map the consideration process, identify where content can add value, craft and own your positioning and deliver content at all points. Give your audience what they want when the need it.