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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% of customers 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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Latest insights

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

    • 09/28/17
    • Financial Services
    • Automotive
    • Market Opportunities and Innovation
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • Global
    • English

    What impact is renewal transparency having on the British motor insurance market?

    Premium Drivers

    If you have renewed your motor insurance recently you may have noticed that the price your insurer has asked you to pay has probably increased. A combination of higher Insurance Premium Tax (rates have doubled over the past two years), bigger injury pay-outs and rising vehicle repair costs mean that motor insurance prices are now at an all-time high. Even for those of us savvy enough to shop around and switch provider, prices have also typically risen, despite the fact that the market remains as competitive as ever. However, it still generally pays to switch, as the vast majority of motor insurance providers are still willing to chase new business and therefore many still offer introductory discounts. Given this, it is somewhat concerning that, according to GfK’s Financial Research Survey (FRS), that the number of drivers who do switch has remained basically unchanged compared to four years ago. The number has held steady at around a quarter of drivers. So it would seem that many drivers don’t know, don’t consider, or just can’t be bothered, to change provider, despite the rising prices.

    Motor insurance renewal transparency: early signs of increased shopping around

    But there are tentative signs that this might be changing. Since April 2017, insurance providers have had to disclose prior year premiums on renewal notices. These new rules mandated by the FCA allow customers to compare more easily what they paid last year versus what they may pay this year, if they remain with the same provider. Early signs suggest renewal transparency has helped encourage greater levels of shopping around but this hasn’t so far translated into actual switching. According to the FRS, the proportion of drivers who “actively renew” their motor insurance (renew but take out at least one quote) has grown and now stands at 29%, the highest-ever level. In addition, a high proportion of those who have switched in the last 12 months also state that they are likely to switch again. On the other hand, large numbers are still auto-renewing on their motor insurance, particularly across older age groups where auto renewal rates remain stubbornly high at over 45%. For these customers, renewal transparency rules mean that providers must now also include additional disclosures on renewal notices explicitly encouraging people to shop around. Overall, I think renewal transparency has definitely been a useful step forward in making the motor insurance market more consumer friendly, and it will be interesting to see if it helps encourage greater levels of switching in the months ahead. If you would like more data, please contact me.

    The Financial Research Survey (FRS) is one of the largest and longest running surveys tracking personal financial holdings and behaviours and is considered the industry benchmark within the British financial industry

    • 09/06/17
    • Fashion and Lifestyle
    • Home Appliances
    • Financial Services
    • Media and Entertainment
    • Retail
    • Technology
    • Travel and Hospitality
    • Automotive
    • Consumer Goods
    • FMCG
    • Home and Living
    • Market Opportunities and Innovation
    • Consumer Life
    • Global
    • English

    The mood of the world today – what are people thinking?

    In this free on-demand webinar, our experts dive into current consumer confidence and other key indicators of the consumer mindset and what it means for individual markets and brands.
    • 08/24/17
    • Technology
    • Automotive
    • Global
    • English

    09/11/17
    Virtual reality meets traditional research: GfK @ ESOMAR 2017 congress

    How big a role can VR play for the market research world and what are the potential benefits?
    • 08/09/17
    • Retail
    • Automotive
    • Mystery Shopping
    • Global
    • English

    Crowdsourcing versus Mystery Shopping – sometimes the quick answer suffices

    Whether you’re a retailer trying to push through a new service initiative or a manufacturer launching a new product, all your hard work and investment can quickly unravel if your in-store activation misses the mark. Gleaning fast early-launch feedback of what is happening at the point of sale is critical, so that key elements can be tweaked, re-communicated or corrected to ensure a successful launch. With this ever-present challenge, it’s no surprise that most major brands employ some form of in-store mystery shopping activity, to gain that quantitative and qualitative read of performance. Although mystery shopping may go in and out of fashion, it is still arguably the single best methodology for understanding exactly what is happening on the shop floor and identifying problems. However, there is also increasing demand for fast turnaround data on retail performance – and this has triggered increasing use of ‘crowdsourced audits’ alongside traditional mystery shopping against a smaller number of metrics and across less defined samples.

    When to use crowdsourced audits and when to use mystery shopping

    On-trade product launches are typically prime candidates for the use of quick-fire checks (crowdsourced audits), rather than statistically representative studies (mystery shopping). A product manager who wants to understand how one bar chain is promoting and serving his new product versus another bar chain requires the statistical certainty of a mystery shopping program. But, in early stage launches, sometimes the overriding need can be as simple as quickly assessing whether your product is actually present. In our mystery shopping programs, we regularly uncover distribution issues, or stock still sitting in backrooms and out of date POS/promotions bearing no link whatsoever to a scheduled launch. In this instance, a fast random coverage of the market is what is needed, rather than an all-singing, all-dancing robust sample exercise. This is where crowdsourced audits come into their own as a measurement methodology.  In essence, these are a variant of mystery shopping, based on wide-coverage, untrained panels of everyday consumers who can ‘pick up’ assignments based on their proximity to locations and conduct quick turnaround simple ‘checks’. For example, checking specific promotions and activations, product availability, pricing or a simple recommendation across a non-fixed sample of stores is ideal territory for crowdsourced audits. They are essentially fast turnaround checks without the robustness of a representative sample. The ability to feedback quickly with both objective responses and photos means client teams can get that all-important early read and work out if there are any launch issues to be addressed.

    Conclusion

    The critical factor is that the agency you choose must have the experience to know when the ‘crowdsourced audit’ route is appropriate, and when a more comprehensive mystery shop approach is needed. The tipping point can be quite small, but will have big implications on the resultant data and level of insight. We employ both methodologies and increasingly are providing clients with a blended approach in order to best deliver the whole story in the most cost effective way. Both techniques can be fast turnarounds and both can provide photo capture with GPS stamping but, in its simplest terms, the differentiation revolves around the complexity of the task and the type of sample needing to be covered. As such it’s no great surprise that mystery shopping is the primary solution in sectors such as Banking and Automotive, where we measure high involvement and detailed purchases, but when it comes to high street retail and simple product recommendation checks, the blended solution becomes very relevant. Whether it’s a quick answer or more comprehensive measure, marketers and product managers have a far greater range of solutions to call upon and it’s the job of the agencies to properly assess the need and find the best fit. Oli Bailey is the Development Director of Mystery Shopping at GfK. To share your thoughts, please email oli.bailey@gfk.com or leave a comment below.
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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