Auto Industry Needs to Offer Consumers a Better Customized Online Experience, Accenture Survey Finds

  Auto Industry Needs to Offer Consumers a Better Customized Online
  Experience, Accenture Survey Finds

   Consumers Believe Better Digital Marketing Could Make Car-Buying Process
                                    Faster

Business Wire

NEW YORK -- December 11, 2012

Consumers say they are turning to a variety of online and offline services to
help them make their car-buying decisions because industry websites fail to
satisfy their needs, a new global survey by Accenture (NYSE:ACN) reveals.

The survey of 13,000 drivers in 11 countries found that consumers believe the
car-buying process would be simpler and quicker if the content on auto
industry websites was customized to be more relevant to their specific
car-buying preferences and if the industry adopted such online innovations as
web chat and mobile-enabled websites, which are used widely in other retailing
sectors.

Of the survey respondents who say they research their car purchases online
before buying a vehicle, 78 percent visit at least six websites or more first,
and 15 percent say they need to browse more than 20 websites to get the
information they seek. In addition, 75 percent say they still turn to more
traditional offline media for the information required to make a car-buying
decision.

Accenture believes the findings demonstrate a lack of integrated digital
marketing among manufacturer and dealer sites in the automotive industry. More
than three quarters (80 percent) of the respondents would like more intuitive,
customized content made available to them, while 75 percent favor a process
that will enable them to obtain more simplified information online. Nearly
three quarters (73 percent) would like the comparison process simplified, and
68 percent would welcome the ability to chat online with a dealer.

“A consistent customer experience is vital to the online-offline sales
process, an area in which the auto industry is notably lagging other sectors
in the eyes of the consumer,” said Luca Mentuccia, global managing director of
Accenture’s Automotive Industry Group. “Consumers have made it clear that they
want better online support, advice and personalization when buying a car with
consistent handoffs to the dealer when they are ready to visit the showroom.
At a time when digital marketers are utilizing algorithms to predict what
online visitors want to know, automakers should be better able to shape web
content that is more user-centric.”

According to the survey, most respondents (88 percent) also want easier and
clearer pricing to help expedite the car-buying process, while 77 percent want
dealers to provide them with a simpler way to configure a vehicle. More than
three quarters (76 percent) would like to have the ability to compare
additional options with the same automaker’s product line and 75 percent would
welcome more mobile-enabled websites. Additionally, 74 percent desire better
integration between dealer sites and inventory search functions.

“In our experience, car buyers are open to post-sales activities such as
loyalty program memberships and enrollment in maintenance plans,” said
Mentuccia. “Success with these programs can be enhanced through the use of
customized landing pages that are based on customer demographics, personal
preferences and previous interactions. However, our research shows that
consumers believe the auto industry has a way to go to enhance digital
marketing.”

Better Digital Marketing Sites Key to Future Car-buying

According to the survey, 82 percent of the respondents believe that better
interactive digital marketing is a must for the auto industry, and 83 percent
agree that improved digital media would significantly reduce the time needed
to purchase a vehicle. In addition, over three quarters of consumers (76
percent) feel that the auto sector significantly lags other retail industries
in the use of digital media tools such as video and 360-degree website tours.

Accenture believes that putting digital marketing to better use could yield an
increase in topline sales for the automotive sector of one to two percent.

Americans use social media, Italians less likely to use manufacturers’
websites, Germans want on-line chat with dealers

The study polled consumers in both developed and emerging markets. In each of
these markets, the level of digital penetration has created an appetite among
buyers for using digital channels, illustrating how important it is for auto
makers and dealers to tap into the power of mobile devices and the internet.
However, the research also uncovered some disparities among consumers in the
countries represented in the survey:

  *American drivers, for example, are the most likely to turn to social media
    when buying a car – 94 percent use social media reviews as part of their
    online searches, compared with only 58 percent of consumers in India and
    75 percent overall.
  *Chinese buyers expressed the highest interest – 82 percent – in using
    digital communications to find out more about news in car-technology. In
    contrast, they had the lowest interest – 76 percent – in using digital
    communications to learn more about parts exchange upgrades.
  *German drivers – 81 percent – had the greatest interest in chatting with
    dealers online in order to make the online purchase process easier.
  *By contrast, only 58 percent of Malaysian drivers and 59 percent of Indian
    drivers expressed an interest in this option.
  *The country with the highest interest among consumers in carrying out the
    entire vehicle purchase process online is South Korea. In fact, 96 percent
    of South Korean respondents said they would be interested in handling
    everything regarding a car purchase online, including financing, price
    negotiation, back-office paperwork and final delivery to their home.
  *Indian drivers are the least likely to have bought their current car
    online: 13 percent, compared to 37 percent of American respondents.
  *More than half (56 percent) of Indonesians visit fewer than five
    car-buying websites, while 33 percent of Americans visit more than 20
    websites when buying a car.
  *Italian drivers are the least likely to use manufacturers’ websites when
    making online searches for a car, at 60 percent, compared to 84 percent of
    South Koreans and 72 percent of respondents overall.
  *Brazilian and French drivers expressed the greatest interest in seeing
    easier and clearer online pricing, with 93 percent of respondents in both
    countries citing this factor.
  *Among Japanese drivers responding to the survey, 83 percent said they
    would like to see more mobile-enabled websites to help them in the
    car-purchasing process, compared to only 54 percent of Indian respondents.

In terms of the major influencers that impact their car-buying decisions,
survey respondents essentially gave equal weight across the board to
manufacturer sites (53 percent), the recommendations of friends and colleagues
(54 percent), social media (56 percent) and advice from family (59 percent).

“The wide range of influencers with no discernible ‘leader’ demonstrates the
extent to which consumers are constantly assessing their car purchases,”
Mentuccia said.

“Consumers are in a constant state of purchase evaluation, which is changing
the traditional boundaries of marketing and customer loyalty. Through the
sophisticated use of digital technology, automakers and dealers could better
interact with their customers and have a stronger online influence in the
buying process.”

About the Study

The consumer survey was conducted by Coleman Parkes Research on behalf of
Accenture. It was carried out online from August through September 2012 in
multiple languages. The markets covered were Brazil, China, France, Germany,
India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and the United States.

Interviews were conducted with 13,000 drivers, between the ages of 18 to more
than 65, who have a vehicle that is no more than three years old.

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and
outsourcing company, with 257,000 people serving clients in more than 120
countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities
across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the
world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help
them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated
net revenues of US$27.9 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2012. Its
home page is www.accenture.com.

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Contact:

Accenture
Anthony Hatter, + 44-7717-866766
anthony.hatter@accenture.com