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Smart Insights: Automotive

The global automotive industry is facing change on two fronts: a shifting industry landscape of emerging markets and increasing environmental regulations, and evolving consumer behavior and expectations.

To remain competitive, automotive manufacturers and retailers need industry insights that provide clear direction on today’s markets and the consumer demands of tomorrow.  

Our automotive market research experts deliver smart insights across all areas: From optimizing new concepts and product design (for example through car clinics), identifying precise actions to improve car brand perception or experiences, to tracking automotive aftersales.

Success Stories
  • Improving market impact by testing brand strength

    Improving market impact by testing brand strength

    28.06.2016

    We helped our client understand ways of improving its brand relationships with its target audience.

    Situation

    This client is a significant player in the market for compact, stylish and fuel-efficient city cars. It wished to learn more about how consumers relate to its brand and how to create a deeper emotional bond between customers and its brand. The manufacturer also wanted to assess the customer-brand relationship and the performance of a new model.

    Approach

    We employed our customer-brand relationship (CBR) framework in Germany to investigate how strong and positive consumers’ connections were with our client’s compact car. We also benchmarked the manufacturer’s brand relationships with its customers against those of its category competitors.

    Outcome

    Our research found that the auto company enjoyed strong relationships with 38% of consumers, while its top two competitors had strong connections with 46% and 47% ofcustomers respectively. Additionally, its brand had the highest share of negative relationships with consumers at 11%. Taking these findings into consideration, we were able to propose ways our client could improve its brand impact in the market, such as leveraging its joy of life attributes to increase brand equity and catch up with its competitors.

    Click here to download our success story (short version)

    Click here to download our success story (long version)

  • Testing the vehicle interfaces of tomorrow

    Testing the vehicle interfaces of tomorrow

    28.06.2016

    We help a European automaker conduct user experience and usability research for its navigation and infotainment systems.

    Situation

    Ensuring that human-machine interaction (HMI) remains easy and enjoyable is a growing challenge for our client as it incorporates a growing list of new features.

    Approach

    For more than five years, we have worked with the client on the usability and user experience of its in-vehicle navigation and infotainment systems. We used iterative usability testing with real users to help improve upcoming models and ensure that new concepts and interfaces met user requirements. Our driver distraction testing has also played an important role in our work for the company. We have conducted over 50 studies in total to help the carmaker improve interaction and display concepts in the HMI. This research has spanned the clients’ facilities, our own labs and real-world traffic.

    Outcome

    We helped the automaker to create a usable, engaging and desirable user interface for its latest navigation and infotainment system, launched recently in one of its high-end sedans. Our work has also helped ensure driver distraction from the in-vehicle systems stays within accepted industry guidelines. We continue to work on new interface concepts for future models.

    Click here to download our success story (short version)

    Click here to download our success story (long version)

  • Enhancing brand performance in the US luxury auto market

    Enhancing brand performance in the US luxury auto market

    12.11.2015

    GfK researched one of Europe’s major auto manufacturers to determine the strength of its brand relationships with customers in the United States.

    A large European auto manufacturer that focuses on the luxury segment.

    Situation

    This company has improved the perception of its product and brand in the US market over the past few years and is establishing itself as a serious alternative for premium car buyers. Though our client’s brand equity and sales are steadily growing in the US, we conducted research around ways our client could further strengthen its performance.

    Approach

    We analyzed the auto manufacturer’s market impact using our Brand Vivo methodology – an approach that provides insight into consumer-brand relationships.

    Outcome

    The research showed the client is lagging the market leaders in consideration, familiarity and buying intention. We found that the automaker’s relationships with a high share of consumers in its target market were weak. Thus, to increase long-term brand success in the US, we recommended that the client:

    • evaluate current communications to ensure it had strong “personal fit” and “fun to drive”
      messaging
    • monitor social media buzz and take actions to encourage website visits
    • ensure relevant distribution of service centers.

    Click here to download our success story (short version)

    Click here to download our success story (long version)

  • Evolving a luxury car brand in Europe

    Evolving a luxury car brand in Europe

    12.11.2015

    GfK rolled out a brand tracking program for an auto manufacturer that wanted to improve brand relationships with consumers.

    The client is a manufacturer of luxury vehicles.

    Situation

    This carmaker has been struggling to command brand presence in the media and in consumers’ minds in the largest European markets for premium motor cars.

    Approach

    We implemented a brand tracking program in Spain, Germany, France, Italy and the UK for this client. Our purchase funnel model gave it rich insight into the car buyer’s decision-making process. Applying our ConX methodology, we evaluated the vehicle manufacturer’s customer experience at various touchpoints. This painted a picture of how negative, positive and memorable these brand experiences were from the consumer’s perspective. The GfK Brand Vivo methodology underpinned our analysis. It uses human relationships as metaphors for the connection between brands and consumers.

    Outcome

    Our solution enabled our client to track brand performance in its most important markets over a year. We found that its investments in marketing yielded an improvement in short-term funnel performance. However, it was not yet succeeding in strengthening longer-term relationships with consumers. We recommended that the client evolve its marque in the following ways:

    • Increase branding in all marketing activities
    • Focus on shifting the technocratic tone of its communications to a more emotional one.

    Click here to download our success story (short version)

    Click here to download our success story (long version)

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Discover latest industry insights, market data and how Auto and Consumer trends will affect your business.

Latest insights

Here you can find the latest insights for automotive industry. View all insights

    • 03/09/17
    • Automotive
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Global
    • English

    How to define engaging experiences in self-driving cars

    Autonomous vehicles have the potential to disrupt everything we know about driving. Earlier this year, I attended a panel discussion regarding the advancements in autonomous driving at the 2017 Consumer and Electronics Show (CES). One conclusion from this session was that it is no longer a question of “if”, but “when” autonomous vehicles will become part of our lives.

    A blank canvas for auto manufacturers

    With no need for a steering wheel, accelerator, or brake pedals, the interior of a car becomes a blank canvas. So, how will companies shape this canvas while keeping the user at the forefront? For example, if a passenger wanted to work on their commute, a car could be customized into an office space with a desk and internet connection. Prefer to relax and recharge after a long day? A car could offer features like a massage chair or a big screen TV. And, in the case of ridesharing, a different car could be called up to fit the user’s mood. The car has the potential to become a “third-space”, a space to be used for more than a way to get to where you are going.

    Understanding the types of experiences consumers want

    UX research methods such as ethnography will help manufacturers understand what types of experiences consumers want to have in-car, and how to deliver them in a way that engages and delights. Ethnography helps designers, engineers, and researchers build empathy by taking them out of the lab and placing them in real world situations users face every day. We employ this approach to uncover insights while observing common tasks side-by-side with participants. This method uncovers behaviors and insights that wouldn’t be revealed in any other form of research, and allows us to truly see the world from the user’s perspective. These insights allow us to develop use-case scenarios and solutions that are both nuanced and relevant.

    Standing apart as the landscape evolves

    As the autonomous vehicle landscape evolves, manufacturers who are able to create truly exceptional in-car experiences will stand apart. The first step to delivering exceptional consumer experiences is understanding what consumers expect and need – and how they should be delivered. Through direct observation, ethnography has the power to uncover this. The question is, which auto manufacturer will be the first to get it right? hbspt.cta.load(2405078, 'dd7ac318-b881-41bc-b61d-84467be53b2d', {});
    • 03/02/17
    • Automotive
    • Global
    • English

    Vehicle features and the importance of having the latest driver technology

    While safety, reliability, fuel economy and low running costs top the list of what people see as being ‘very important’ in a vehicle, over a third (36%) of those surveyed online rank having the latest driver technology in the same regards.  Driver technology includes steering or parking assist, adaptive cruise control, and keyless entry or ignition. Over a quarter (28%) of the online population also ranked having the latest passenger technology, which includes audio or video streaming and social network connectivity, as ‘very important’ to them.

    Where driver and passenger technology is most important

    Out of the 17 countries surveyed, Brazil, China and Korea have the highest percentages overall of people saying that the latest driver technology is ‘very important’ to them. China, Brazil and Mexico, meanwhile, have the highest percentages of people rating the latest passenger technology as ‘very important’. “The value of these findings for vehicle manufacturers lies in being able to assess precisely which features different consumer segments say appeal most to them – and adjust marketing content and product development to match those aspirations”, said Global Head of Automotive Research, Siegfried Hoegl. “By combining this attitudinal data with analysis of actual sales across different markets and consumer segments, or insights from running in-depth car clinics, we help our clients to fine-tune their customer insights to the maximum extent – both globally and at country specific level.”

    Vehicle technology importance and the role of income

    A notable difference in the responses was found when breaking down the results by income. In the highest income range (the top quarter of the total income in each country), 44% see the latest driver technology as ‘very important’, compared to the bottom quarter income band, which had 30%.  A similar dip was seen across income quartiles for the importance of passenger technology as well. In fact, income had an effect on what people see as important for a range of features, including the quality of workmanship, a comfortable and spacious interior, a powerful engine and the reputation of the manufacturer.  However, other areas such as the fuel economy and environmental friendliness had much more even results across income ranges. About the study GfK conducted the online survey with over 22,000 consumers aged 15 or older across 17 countries. Fieldwork was completed in summer 2016. Data are weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the online population aged 15+ in each market. Countries covered are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, Spain, UK and USA. hbspt.cta.load(2405078, 'af3661c9-e2be-4ca7-9cad-398f48f53330', {});
    • 02/28/17
    • Fashion and Lifestyle
    • Financial Services
    • Media and Entertainment
    • Retail
    • Technology
    • Travel and Hospitality
    • Automotive
    • Consumer Goods
    • FMCG
    • Market Opportunities and Innovation
    • Global
    • English

    UK Consumer Confidence drops one point in February to -6

    GfK’s long-running Consumer Confidence Index has decreased one point this month to -6. Three of the five measures saw decreases in February, and two measures saw increases.
    • 02/24/17
    • Technology
    • Automotive
    • Market Opportunities and Innovation
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • Global Study
    • Consumer Life
    • Connected Consumer
    • Connected car
    • Global Consumer Values
    • Global
    • English

    Vehicle features: Latest driver tech ‘very important’ to 1 in 3 people across 17 countries

    GfK, has released findings showing which vehicle features, from a given list, people see as being ‘very important’ in a vehicle. 
Solutions
  • User Experience (UX)

    User Experience (UX)

    Our user experience (UX) research and design experts help our clients create and improve customer experiences for existing or new products and services

    Today’s consumer is bombarded with promises for compelling experiences. They are sophisticated and demanding.  To be successful, a new product or service needs to be intuitive, usable, engaging and desirable. The user experience needs to be emotional in order to be memorable.

  • Market Opportunities and Innovation (MOI)

    Market Opportunities and Innovation (MOI)

    Brands are under constant pressure to maintain relevance in an increasingly crowded market. Identifying when, where and how to deliver compelling experiences that deliver new value for both consumers and brands is critical.

  • Trends & Forecasting

    Trends & Forecasting

    ​Today’s steady stream of new offerings and shortening product lifecycles place a unique pressure on businesses to stay ahead. Consumer purchasing behavior shifts more rapidly than ever.

  • Point of Sales Tracking

    Point of Sales Tracking

    Retailers and manufacturers are under pressure to develop products and services that maximize sales and profit and to keep customers coming back.

    Success relies on having the most up-to-date sales data, combined with robust analysis to understand which products and services are performing well in the market – and which are not. With this information, clients can set clear strategies for commercial growth and increase return on investment.

  • Digital Market Intelligence (DMI)

    Digital Market Intelligence (DMI)

    When consumers shop, search, communicate, gather information and engage with companies or brands online, they behave differently depending on which device or screen they are using. They expect a consistent experience regardless of the channel or device they are using.

  • Brand and Customer Experience (BaCE)

    Brand and Customer Experience (BaCE)

    Brands are under pressure to develop emotional connections and relationships with consumers and business decision makers.  Brands need to respond in-the-moment, to enrich the customer experience – and develop strategies that influence ”moments of truth” throughout individual brand journeys.  

  • Geomarketing

    Geomarketing

    Our geomarketing solutions and consultancy provide our clients with smart insights into location-specific factors that impact the success of business sites, shops, sales territories, target groups, as well as chain store and distribution networks.

  • Mystery Shopping

    Mystery Shopping

    Consumers face a complex array of brand touch points every day of their lives. To deliver a consistent brand experience, marketers need to know how consumers are actually experiencing their brand. Our mystery shoppers give you all the help you need to understand these experiences, and respond to them to maximize the return for your business.

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