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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.

Volker Martens
Volker Martens
Account Director GfK Automotive
+49 911 395 4609

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
  • 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.

  • Crafting compelling, localized propositions in the tire market

    Crafting compelling, localized propositions in the tire market

    12.11.2015

    GfK equipped a multinational tire manufacturer to take actions that help improve market share in Africa and the Middle East.

    Michelin is one of the largest tire manufacturers in the world.

    Situation

    Michelin wanted to improve sales in a key segment of tire consumers in South Africa and the Middle East. It needed to understand which communications positioning and marketing actions it could deploy to increase brand appeal, and boost conversion rates from awareness and consideration to purchase.

    Approach

    Our research plan had two stages:

    1. GfK Smart Discovery: We identified market opportunities through an inside-out view of the consumer segment, including the dealer perspective. Then, we profiled the customer base and conducted drive-along and shop-along interviews with recent purchasers and active intenders.
    2. GfK Smart Creative: We held an activation workshop to design compelling consumer and dealer value propositions.

    Outcome

    The study revealed the mindset, values and category needs of the audience, along with its perceptions of Michelin’s brand strengths and weaknesses compared to major competitors. It showed how unsuitable communications materials developed in Europe would be for the target markets.

    The research gave the client direction for the development of new collateral that would be relevant and appealing for customers in South Africa and the Middle East.

    Click here to download the success story.

  • Social media: Separating customer sentiment from the noise

    Social media: Separating customer sentiment from the noise

    14.09.2015

    Social media: Separating customer sentiment from the noise

    The GfK Social Media Intelligence solution helped our client to understand customer sentiment about a new car model, allowing it to sharpen its marketing approach.

    Our client is a major car manufacturer with a strong presence in India.

    Situation

    The Internet – including social media – plays a major role in influencing car purchase decisions among India’s 120 million-plus Internet users. This Indian automotive manufacturer wanted to monitor and measure social media sentiment about a new car model so that it could improve its marketing effectiveness.

    Approach

    We used our Social Media Intelligence (SMI) solution over five months to monitor and analyze social media conversations about the new car. Our approach combined automated tools with human insight to ensure accurate interpretation of social media content.
    “Human coding” – using skilled people to clean and categorize social data – enabled us to derive real insight from the data and posts we collected.

    Outcome

    The data we gathered and the analysis we conducted allowed us to map trends and sentiment about the new car into a clear understanding of the model’s online reputation. We cut through the noise of the social web to provide our client with actionable insights. From these insights we provided various recommendations, which included a focus on using the right channels to communicate to different audiences (users and influencers, for example) with appropriate messaging.

    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

    • 05/04/16
    • Technology
    • Automotive
    • Global
    • English

    10 potential benefits of new in-car audio technology

    Each year, thousands of people worldwide are injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents involving a distracted driver. Rapid growth in the installation and use of in-vehicle electronic features, along with an array of associated visual and auditory cues, are adding to driver distraction. Future in-vehicle electronic systems will need safer and more intuitive designs to enhance the driving experience while, at the same time, reducing the risk of distraction for today’s multitasking drivers. One of our clients in the emerging connected vehicle space offered an innovative concept that addresses both safety and experiential needs with precisely and logically-placed audio cues. They sponsored user experience (UX) research with us to understand consumers’ acceptance of the concept, examine the potential impact, and assess the value that potential car buyers place on this technology and its intended benefits.

    Sneak peek: Study findings reveal expected safety and driver experience benefits

    Audio cues were considered by most participants in this study to be less distracting and more noticeable than visual cues, even among those who consider themselves to be more visually-oriented. Such audio prompts are perceived to be especially helpful in situations that demand the driver’s immediate attention, such as a blind-spot warning, lane departure warning or navigation prompt. They also have the added benefit of not requiring the driver to take his or her eyes off the road. Our research uncovered the following perceived benefits of our client’s in-car technology:
    • Improved focus (due to localization of sound)
    • Ability to multitask (due to separation of sound)
    • Better situational awareness
    • Faster response and reaction times
    • Less need to take eyes off road to view display prompts
    • More intuitive reactions requiring less concentration
    • Greater passenger awareness
    • Enhanced input when visibility is limited
    • Optimized sound placement for hearing impaired
    • Enhanced audio experience and “cool-factor”
     
    As with any new technology, education, clear consumer messaging and if possible, hands-on experience, are also critical to build awareness, comfort and demand. And this is just the start to a future of more engaged, alert and responsive drivers. Please share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at Melinda.Jamil@gfk.com (Senior Research Director, User Experience at GfK). For a full summary of study findings and methods, download our free whitepaper.
    • 04/27/16
    • Retail
    • Technology
    • Automotive
    • Consumer Goods
    • Connected Consumer
    • Global
    • English

    Connected Consumer Index

    GfK’s Connected Consumer Index 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. 
    • 04/27/16
    • Technology
    • Automotive
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Global
    • English

    A compelling answer to the challenge of distracted driving

    One of our clients in the emerging connected vehicle space sponsored research to understand the impact of new technology that incorporates precisely- and logically-placed audio cues on the driver experience.
    • 04/26/16
    • Technology
    • Automotive
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Global
    • English

    4 considerations for innovating the automotive industry

    I recently chaired the World Autonomous Vehicle Summit in Stuttgart, Germany where speakers and attendees peered into their crystal ball to understand what the future holds for the automotive industry. How do manufacturers innovate to embrace the future? What does ‘innovation’ really mean in terms of success? What impact will autonomous driving have on the industry? I reflected on these questions as applied to recent technological announcements and published research. Several themes emerged from these which resulted in four considerations for those innovating the next auto frontier.

    1. Educate consumers about the benefits of your in-vehicle innovation

    Data from our Automotive Technology Insights Report, The future is here…can you see it?, found that consumers are factoring in-vehicle technology as a purchase decision attribute. Moreover, the research revealed that new car intenders would be willing to pay more for new car innovation, such as emergency braking, self-parking control and pre-incident preparation (e.g., automatic seat belt tightening). On the downside, awareness of what the new vehicle features actually do is quite low. An example of a perceived benefit versus reality was highlighted when the study revealed 65% of respondents did not find autonomous driving appealing if it cannot be used after drinking alcohol. This suggests the need to educate consumers about the benefits and not just list the features as bullet points.

    2. Innovate with a solid user experience (UX) framework

    It should be no surprise to anyone that we are at the cusp of great changes in the auto industry. Just a few years ago, the introduction of new vehicle innovations used to be dependent upon the chassis of the car and with the traditional seven to eight year lifecycle, innovation took time. Today’s chassis is more akin to a computer where the product development lifecycle is flexible and fast. The challenge for manufacturers with this faster lifecycle is to ensure the technology features will work and leapfrog them over competitors. Involving users throughout the development process will result in technology that meets user needs, in a way that they expect it to work and where they want to use it. Stand out from competitors by delivering a great user experience.

    3. Consider global attitudinal differences regarding autonomous driving acceptance

    Another area the study revealed was the variable acceptance of autonomous-driving vehicles across countries. There was a strong emotional anxiety and fear associated with autonomous driving in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. I argue it’s because we like to drive our cars! Surprisingly, Brazil and China were open to autonomous-driving vehicles. These differences highlight the need to address attitudes when launching products into markets. In this case, manufacturers should address the fear and anxiety in the U.S., U.K. and German markets. But in Brazil and China, perhaps call out the ride-sharing benefits.

    4. Design the car of the future as a service, not a product

    An interesting result from our Future of Auto study was around market segmentation. The six segments of car buyers were:
    • Safe & Worry Free – Oldest of the segments, this group has below average use of in-vehicle technologies. Typically, they seek inexpensive, easy to use features that will make driving safer.
    • Keep Me Young – This segment enjoys driving and taking care of their vehicle. On average, they seek technologies that enhance the driving experience and performance of their vehicle.
    • Savvy Enthusiasts – This segment enjoys technology and the driving experience. Seek automotive technology that entertains driver and passenger and allows them to connect everyday technologies to their vehicle.
    • From A to B – Importance is placed on practical vehicle features so driving is a safer, more reliable way to get from place to place.
    • Livin’ & Lovin’ Cars – Youngest of the segments, this group highly enjoys both technology and vehicles. Their vehicle reflects who they are, while having entertainment and convenience items close at hand.
    • Young Ambivalent – View their vehicle as an appliance rather than a means freedom or enjoyment, and seek technology that streamlines their devices from home to vehicle.
     
    Of the six segments, the two that bubbled up for me were Young Ambivalent and Living and Loving Cars. The Young Ambivalent segment is the one that should scare the auto industry. These are consumers who don’t care. While the data only revealed this was 19% of the market (relatively low), when we looked deeper, two thirds of Millennials made up this segment. That is almost an entire generation who are ambivalent to car ownership. And, I don’t have to look too far to understand this – I remember how long it took my son to get his driver’s license. I am in the Living and Loving Cars segment. I don’t want someone driving my car for me or carpooling. When I asked the conference audience, who were largely from Germany, their feelings about carpooling and car sharing were very negative. People, like me, could not fathom letting someone else drive, eat and smoke in their car. But I started to rethink how car sharing and autonomous driving would impact how I looked at car ownership. If the car is autonomous, it becomes a service not a product. It is clearer to me that autonomous driving is changing car ownership to a service. And I’m not the only one thinking this. In June 2015, Deutsche Bank downgraded Progressive because they see this change. “We believe the concurrent rise of instant ridesharing and autonomous vehicles presents real questions as to whether there will even be an auto insurance industry as we know it in twenty years…Vehicle utilization will rise and cars on the road will decline as one car can serve the driving needs of multiple travelers per day, which, in-turn, means fewer cars,” said their analysts.

    Let’s focus our energy on getting it right for the user

    With this looming shift in the auto industry, I’m reminded of a quote from Bill Gates: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” (The Road Ahead, 1996). While everyone continues to speculate how autonomous driving will impact the future, let’s focus our energy on getting it right for the user. Please share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at gavin.lew@gfk.com (Executive Vice President, User Experience at GfK).
Your GfK contact
Volker Martens
Volker Martens
Account Director
GfK Automotive
+49 911 395 4609