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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.

DAT cooperation

Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH (DAT) and the market research company GfK are cooperating in the field of vehicle data. The aim of the cooperation is to create new products for various stakeholders in the automotive industry, as well as for end consumers. For the first time, this cooperation will enable the two market research companies to offer vehicle data over the entire life cycle of a vehicle. Data will consist of vehicle information prior to market introduction, data regarding configuration of new vehicles, valuations for used cars, repair cost calculations, and data on vehicle recycling.

The cooperation between both companies shall initially cover four fields:
New cars, used cars, fleet business, after-sales retail.

Read more about the DAT and GfK cooperation

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

  • 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

  • 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 the success story.

  • 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 the success story.

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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.

Latest insights

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

    • 06/28/16
    • Automotive
    • Brand and Customer Experience
    • Global
    • English

    Improving market impact by testing brand strength

    We helped our client understand ways of improving its brand relationships with its target audience.
    • 06/28/16
    • Automotive
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Global
    • English

    Testing the vehicle interfaces of tomorrow

    We help a European automaker conduct user experience and usability research for its navigation and infotainment systems.
    • 05/20/16
    • Technology
    • Automotive
    • Global
    • English

    Think Big With These Five Guiding Principles of Innovation

    At last week’s Front End of Innovation (FEI) conference, Vijay Govindarajan of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and the author of The Three Box Solution said “The future comes to us in daily doses”.  This point was driven home for me in the recent announcement that came from GM and Lyft, about their plan to test autonomous self-driving cars as taxis as early as 2017.  Not only did this give us a glimpse into the not-so-distant future, but it is a great example of a business following our five guiding principles of innovation: Think big, Understand shifts, Look outside-in, Fuse trends, and Think about the “Perfect Storm”.

    Thinking Big: The driving factors behind Lyft’s innovation

    The most obvious fundamental force behind this announcement is the technology — because without that the dream of an autonomous car would simply be the stuff of science fiction.  However, technology itself is not the only factor.  Way back in 2000, a third of all Americans1 told us that they would be interested in a car that drives for you when you don’t feel like driving — clearly an early, weak signal that this type of technology was at least intriguing to consumers.

    The Perfect Storm: A market poised for growth

    The second (and also somewhat obvious) driver behind this announcement is the rapid expansion of the sharing, or access, economy.  Back in 2010, we told our clients that the “for now” economy – predicated on consumers’ increasing interest in experiences and liquidity and a shying away from ownership and long-term commitments – was poised for growth.  Flash forward to today and we have a world where 59% of global consumers have at least heard of the access economy1 (and 12% report that they have engaged in it). Lyft is one of the dominant players in this marketplace.

    Understanding Shifts: What the future will look like

    Perhaps not so obvious are some other fundamental forces.  By the year 2050, 70% of humankind is projected to live in urban areas1.  This is a huge driver with implications across a wide-range of platforms, not the least of which is related to transportation.  Beijing has already reported traffic jams lasting 3 days or more – what could those traffic jams look like when that urban population doubles from where it is today?  The need for more efficient ways to get from point A to point B is only going to grow.

    Looking Outside-In: Giving consumers what they want

    Another force is that of an aging population.  In most developed markets, we’ve been experiencing aging populations for more than a generation.  The real change is going to come in the future, when markets like China and India report their highest ever numbers of consumers age 65 and older.  Couple that with the trends of ‘aging my way’ and aging with vitality, and we see the opportunity for autonomous vehicles – ending the need for anyone to have their keys taken away due to physical or mental impairments.

    Fusing Trends with the Connected Consumer Index

    Lastly, constant connectivity, and the integration with technology that this implies, speaks to the underlying need for a business model of matching unmet needs of consumers in real time. We at GfK have recently launched our Connected Consumer Index, which provides a single measure covering how much, and on what devices, consumers in each of 78 countries and 8 world regions digitally connect with each other and with digital content. The market for Connected Cars has shown steady growth over the past three years, especially in the more developed markets like Hong Kong and North America. The news of this week does, to paraphrase William Gibson, prove that the future is already here, although not evenly distributed.  Following the five guiding principles of innovation is one way to make sure your business is on an even playing field. Please share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at kathy.sheehan@gfk.com. 1GfK Consumer Life (Roper Reports®)
    • 05/11/16
    • Technology
    • Automotive
    • Connected Consumer
    • Global
    • English

    The Connected Consumer: Integrating Car And Home

    Since the dawn of the smartphone, consumers around the world have been on a lightning fast path towards ubiquitous connectivity. Almost a third of U.K. consumers feel it’s essential to always be reachable1. This trend is driving change across almost all industries, with customers’ houses potentially being the next step on the ladder for the internet of things. The challenge for automotive will be how it integrates with this space. In this post I’m looking at key trends in how our cars are becoming more connected with our home.

    New technology and consumer demand pushing the automotive industry into continuous evolution

    While the automotive industry may be accused of being slow moving, it’s been working in this space since before the first iPhone, in the guise of automatic emergency calling – a system with an embedded cell phone which calls the emergency services in the event of an accident. However, over the past five years, new technology and a spike in consumer demand has pushed the industry into a phase of continuous evolution in the connected infotainment space. We actually found that 82% of American consumers regarded the presence of technology to be important when looking to buy a new car2.

    Integrating home and car

    This trend could be set to continue in the coming years for customers looking to buy a new home as well. Our recent Smart Home report found that 78% of Leading Edge Consumers felt such technology will have an impact on their lives in the next few years. As the home becomes more connected, a new challenge opens up for vehicle manufacturers, who will not only have to integrate with consumer devices like smartphones, but also a host of connected devices in the home too. Fortunately manufacturers are already working on solutions to such integration issues. For example, BMW has already announced limited smart home integration in the new 7 series. The SmartThings application is a first step between integrating home and car, and it’s sure not to be the last as other Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) also look to integrate such functionality. In the future, as the car becomes another touch point for the customer’s cloud-based life, it is very likely you’ll be able to receive updates in your vehicle regarding picking up groceries, be able to run a bath or even preheat the oven at just the right time on your journey home. Learn more about the connected car and smart home in our latest video. Please share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at Jack.Bergquist@gfk.com. 1GfK Consumer Life (Roper Reports ©) 2015 2 GfK Connected Technology Report USA 2016 3 GfK Consumer Life (Roper Reports ©) 2015
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