Traditional brand loyalty among car buyers is slowly becoming obsolete. While consumers in the past stuck with one brand their entire lifetime, consumers today aren’t as steadfast in their dedication to cars.
The average car owner in the mid-1990’s kept their cars for 8.4 years. Drivers excitedly returned to the same car lot, eagerly picking up a new model every few years.
Today, however, drivers hold on to their rides for over 11 years on average, meaning when they return to buy a new car, they’re 11 years older. They may have gotten married, had kids or switched jobs.
That cute red sporty two-seater she bought 11 years ago that won’t fit the diaper bags and car seats needed now. The same way the pick-up truck he used to cart around his landscaping equipment as a teenager won’t look professional when he arrives at the office as a twenty-something college graduate.
Consumers are looking elsewhere to find vehicle brands better-suited to their changing lives, and have no qualms about switching brands to find the best fit for their lifestyle.
So what does this mean for the automotive advertising industry?
First, car dealerships can’t all rely on the age-old car-selling tips passed down by their grandfathers. They made their living smiling in car lots, surrounded by huge, hulking Buicks and Chevrolets, touting shiny, brand-new Fords as the best All-American car. While sweetly nostalgic, that picture isn’t a reality anymore.
Second, car dealerships today must re-think their methods. Akin to an election, they can’t ignore loyal customers, assuming they’re safely faithful to the brand and will be forever. Just like any new prospect, they also require advertising attention, and must not be neglected.
Third, thanks to the explosion of technology, particularly mobile devices, consumers are more informed and educated than ever before. They have literally thousands of reviews, deals, incentives, and offers from competing dealerships at their fingertips – and might be checking those out even while they’re standing in a different dealership. Dealerships today must do their homework on their competitors as never before. If they don’t, the consumer definitely is.
The brands that accept this new reality and can adapt to this changing environment will find themselves at the top of the competition.