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2014 major consumer trends – and how they affect Automotive

by Don Deveaux , 10.02.2014

Each year, GfK’s Consumer Trends researchers ask more than 40,000 consumers around the world about their personal values and beliefs, attitudes and behaviors.

The results reveal fundamental trends that really matter to consumers. These represent genuine, long-term shifts in the attitudes that shape peoples’ behavior and influence their decision making and what products they will consider buying.

What does this mean for Auto?
If we look at just the top 5 consumer trends, we can already see strong application to the automotive industry.

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“Safe & Secure”
This encompasses not just the physical safety aspects of the car, but also the long-term trust in the quality of manufacture and the after-sales support. When Hyundai Motors was faced with a potential PR crisis, as the result of an error in the calculation of its EPA fuel economy ratings, it acted quickly and decisively to re-establish confidence in its brand.  It offered customers a personalized debit card that reimbursed them for the difference in fuel economy, with an extra 15% added to regain goodwill. According to CEO John Krafcik, 90% of customers were satisfied with this response.

“Eco-Citizenship” and “Considered Consumption”
“Green” is going to become an ever-bigger issue for the automotive industry, as consumers look for viable ways to make their transport that little bit greener. Whether it’s simply choosing a vehicle with improved fuel economy and reduced emissions, or the full commitment of buying an electric vehicle, consumers want their purchases to support their beliefs –while still keeping an eye on the personal cost. (Our article, “Electric vehicles: the battle of personal versus societal benefits” gives more insights on environmental trends within the auto industry, taken from our Electric Vehicles Study 2013.)

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Drivers want their car to deliver an enjoyable experience whenever they step inside it. This covers not just the look and feel of the car, but also the activities and shared experiences that owning a car can facilitate. For example, Jeep Jamboree Adventures is an organization that delivers holidays in which Jeep enthusiasts drive their own vehicles to a variety of rugged and adventurous locations. These trips not only allow Jeep owners to build a stronger bond with their vehicle, but also create a sense of kinship and camaraderie with like-minded individuals.

“House to home”
With day-to-day life becoming ever more crowded – especially on the roads - people are looking for their cars to provide more than just a means of fast, convenient transport; they also want them to provide a comfortable place to recharge. So good looking design and physical comfort remain important – but there is growing demand for on-board technology and services that help you unwind, such as massaging seats, mood lighting and aromatic fragrances tuned to your mood, or GPS systems that map out the fastest route to your destination based on current traffic conditions, or free pickup and delivery of your car for services. A living example of this is Fletcher Jones Mercedes Benz in Newport Beach, California, that provides an airport shuttle and free car wash for customers on demand, whether or not they are having their vehicle serviced.

Much more than global trends

Automotive is a global industry, but it’s not just these global trends that manufacturers and dealers need to consider. We track and investigate consumer trends at global, regional, country and micro level, so that you get not only the big picture stories on what consumers want, but also the local variations and insight on specific consumer groups.

For more about our offerings, visit our Consumer Trends or our Automotive pages.