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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)

  • 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)

  • 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 our success story (short version)

    Click here to download our success story (long version)

    Global careers
    Human Resources
  • Actionable ideas enhance SUV launch campaign

    Actionable ideas enhance SUV launch campaign

    03.09.2015

    Actionable ideas enhance SUV launch campaign

    GfK helped this car manufacturer to understand consumer responses to its upcoming TV campaign in preparation for a new product launch.

    The client is one of Europe’s leading auto manufacturers.

    Situation

    This auto manufacturer was preparing for the worldwide launch of its new sports utility vehicle (SUV). It wanted to pretest its television brand campaign with consumers in key territories to understand its brand effect as well as its cognitive and emotional impact.

    Approach

    We took a thorough approach to this engagement, using our proprietary EMO Scan (www.gfk.com/emoscan) and EMO Sensor methodologies to gauge consumers’ emotional response to the adverts as well as asking them in-depth questions about their thoughts and feelings regarding the commercials. Our representative sample of the target market for the new vehicle comprised 406 drivers in the United States, Germany and China.

    Outcome

    Our research helped our client grasp how successful its television commercials were in achieving its campaign goals around brand fit, message transfer, memorability, clarity, and emotional and cognitive impact.

    The client learned a great deal about how consumers responded to each advertisement scene-by-scene, including the imagery, storyline and music. The study gave the client actionable ideas that helped it optimize its campaign to drive a more successful launch for the new SUV.

    Click here to download our success story (short version)

    Click here to download our success story (long version)

Latest insights

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

    • 11/15/18
    • Fashion and Lifestyle
    • Financial Services
    • Industrial Goods
    • Media and Entertainment
    • Retail
    • Technology
    • Travel and Hospitality
    • Automotive
    • Consumer Goods
    • Energy
    • Geomarketing
    • Geodata
    • Picture of the month
    • Global
    • English

    Map of the Month: GfK Purchasing Power, Europe 2018

    GfK's Map of the Month for November shows the distribution of purchasing power across Europe in 2018.
    • 10/29/18
    • Fashion and Lifestyle
    • Financial Services
    • Industrial Goods
    • Media and Entertainment
    • Retail
    • Technology
    • Travel and Hospitality
    • Automotive
    • Consumer Goods
    • Energy
    • Geomarketing
    • Geodata
    • Digital Maps
    • Digital Maps
    • Global
    • English

    GfK releases updated maps for all of Europe

    GfK has released its Europe Map Edition 2018/2019, which includes thousands of changes to Europe's regions.
    • 10/18/18
    • Automotive
    • Geomarketing
    • Geodata
    • Picture of the month
    • Global
    • English

    Map of the Month: Purchasing power for new automobiles, Germany 2018

    GfK's Map of the Month for October illustrates the distribution of 2018 purchasing power for new automobiles in Germany.
    • 09/06/18
    • Automotive
    • Global
    • English

    Driving Gen Z

    Turn back the clock a handful of years and you’ll find automotive strategists bearish that Millennials’ lack of interest in vehicle ownership will usher in the slow, but inevitable, decline of the car industry. Yet, today, 29% of new vehicles are already being bought by Millennials. In just a few years, despite accounting for only a quarter of the population, our largest generation at 80 million will account for 40% of new car sales. And they’ll just be entering their prime earning years at that point. Naturally, Millennials will be the sales focal point for quite some time. However, manufacturers are already looking towards the next generation of American drivers. Known as Post-Millennial or Gen Z, they’re roughly 8 to 20 years old today and expected to be 75+ million strong. With the vast majority still in school or living at home, innovation for tomorrow begins with insights unearthed today. GfK Consumer Life has been tracking the emergence of this young generation for some time, and we’ve identified several themes that will yield challenges, but also opportunities, for manufacturers.

    Ambitious, yet pragmatic

    As previously outlined, the post-Millennial generation is as focused on accomplishment, if not more, than on self-discovery. Financial independence is their primary goal today. In fact, 80% want to stay away from debt completely, according to research from GfK Consumer Life. And as they watched Millennials before them struggle with mounting college debt, 54% have already taken jobs to earn money for college, while 85% plan to work during their college years. Arguably the strongest advantage today’s teens have compared to Millennials is a robust economy. In retrospect, the timing of the Great Recession (along with historically high gas prices in 2008) as Millennials transitioned to adulthood had the most profound impact on their attitudes towards vehicle ownership. With unemployment reaching an 18-year low earlier this year, upcoming graduates may find a more lucrative job market, and access to transportation more affordable. In fact, after a short dip during the recession, Americans are now driving more miles with more vehicles than ever before. While it’s impossible to predict the next recession, manufacturers and retailers should expect the next generation to transition more seamlessly (and perhaps earlier) into adulthood. They may be shopping your brand sooner, rather than later – if, of course, the product is right.

    Seamless mobility

    You won’t just be selling cars to this generation, you’ll provide them access to fully integrated mobile platforms that eliminate the gap between in- and out-of-car experiences. Today, it’s connected car features – from smartphone integration to streaming services to mobile wifi. Yet, smart devices are second nature to them (1 in 3 are already using mobile voice command), and GfK Consumer Life has found that they’re already 50% more likely than the average American to be controlling smart home or smart car devices and features from their phone. Manufacturers will need to work hard and fast to integrate vehicles into their internet of Things. Whether it’s warming up the oven or conducting mobile video conferences on the drive home from work, or ordering food or vacation planning while in transit (as GM recently introduced with its mobile Marketplace), this generation will demand the absolute elimination of transit “dead time.”

    Multi-mobile

    Of course, ‘buying’ may not be their prerogative. The fiscal savvy of this age group will place greater emphasis on building a flexible transportation portfolio, which may include any number of public, shared, or owned vehicles and services. According to GfK Consumer Life’s most recent 2018 data, teens are just as likely to use public transportation as Millennials (20%), yet less than half as likely (15% vs. 27%) to have used car sharing services. However, on the latter, they are already well ahead of Gen X (11%) and the Boomers (4%) before them. Not surprising, manufacturers are moving aggressively on this front. Subscription models from luxury brands are being tested regionally. Yet, with significant pricing premiums attached to such programs, viability beyond the most affluent is still in question. Gen Z may provide the scale to take these programs mainstream. In fact, they’re already catching up to Millennials on interest in vehicle subscription services (39% vs. 41%), and ahead on shared ownership (32% vs. 28%), despite being novice drivers.

    Security first

    Growing up in the aftermath of 9/11, countless school shootings (active shooter drills are now commonplace in our K-12 schools), and too-many-to-count data privacy breaches, manufacturers can expect this generation to take a more cautionary, yet demanding approach to personal safety and security. According to GfK MRI’s American Teen Study, they are more likely to rate safety in an accident higher relative to fun to drive, compared to Millennials as teens in 2011. Today, 42% view proactive safety systems as important, while 46% are also seeking features that protect from environmental hazards. In fact, according to GfK’s Automotive Innovation and Technology Study, Gen Z are almost three times as likely as average respondents to be seeking wellness solutions that go beyond active and passive safety systems. Beyond physical safety, auto manufacturers might find it more challenging to access and leverage Gen Z’s digital footprint compared to Millennials before them. These teens are sharing less personal information online, with only 31% keeping social pages updated (vs. 45% in 2009). Only 44% are willing to share personal data, even in exchange for benefits and rewards (compared to 62% of Millennials). According to GfK MRI, they are also more than twice as likely as Millennials to embrace the privacy of Snapchat (75% vs 37%), reinforcing their need for secure channels. As the first post-digital generation, they have also identified the limitations of social media and are re-investing in personal interactions. In fact, 3 of 4 are choosing smaller groups of friends over large groups of acquaintances, while a study from IBM suggests that Gen Z is placing as much importance on offline socializing as online. This social recalibration will be an invitation for brands to develop trusted one-to-one relationships with their next generation of clients. Leveraging the convenience of mobile technology, manufacturers such as Lincoln are adding concierge services for a decidedly personal touch to the entire life of the ownership experience. While these are generally reserved for premium brands and consumers today, such offline approaches may well suit the next young buyers seeking a brand connection – one that’s equally digital and analog.

    The road ahead

    While Millennials are center stage for now, the next consumer wave is right around the corner. As it stands, the future looks bright for Gen Z, and especially for those manufacturers who have begun to shine a light on them.
Solutions
  • 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.

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