According to a recent Cox Automotive report, nearly four in 10 consumers agree that transportation is necessary, but owning a vehicle is not. It’s a statistic that has marketers at automotive companies and auto suppliers asking themselves a tough question:

“If 40 percent of Americans don’t see the value in owning a vehicle, how do I position automotive technology as necessary?”

Answering this question involves examining how we got here after a decade of near-constant change. Consumers have gravitated toward ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft. Micromobility solutions such as scooters, shared bikes and Segways often take care of the “last mile” when getting around in a city. In the age of Amazon and delivery apps, things just come to us. We simply don’t need to drive to the store as much.

In other words, if a car simply represents a tool to get from point A to point B, it’s fighting a losing battle. There are more alternatives now than ever before, and they’re often cheaper, more convenient and don’t require maintenance.

It all adds up to major hurdles for marketers to overcome, but here’s a double dose of good news: Millennials like buying cars more than people think, and Generation Z may reach peak buying power just as electric vehicles go mainstream. That means the auto industry isn’t going to collapse anytime soon, but marketers must acknowledge the major shifts in buyer behavior.

Creative storytelling strategies can help: Marketers should stress that the technology inside modern vehicles is making them more and more like gadgets. And not just gadgets, but must-have gadgets.

Today’s consumers already choose to buy smartphones, voice assistants, laptops and wearables based on the most-impressive features, the ability to play nicely with other gadgets they own, and the best fit for their lifestyle. Today’s tech-loaded vehicles are an extension of that concept, and marketers need to embrace that idea through creative storytelling.

Some marketers are already getting it right. Consider media reviews of the iPhone 11 and the 2019 Nissan LEAF Plus: Many iPhone reviewers highlighted the phone’s battery life and camera system, while Nissan LEAF Plus reviewers highlighted the car’s… battery life and camera system. Nissan wisely positioned its messaging to shine a spotlight on the electric vehicle’s range and driver-assistance technology, which clearly resonated with reviewers.

Highlighting in-car innovations will also give suppliers a chance to tout their technologies. Mainstream tech reporters are often interested in the hows and whys of emerging technology. Approaching reporters with deep-dive opportunities to explore those innovations will help suppliers gain coverage from reporters and publications – even the ones that don’t cover cars regularly.

By focusing on the emerging technology under the hood, marketers can reestablish cars as must-buy products yet again -- or at least products that consumers actively choose to buy. After all, driving is rapidly becoming something people choose to do, and effective marketing can make that choice far more compelling.  

The right storytelling approach can make all the difference, and the right marketing professionals will help you do it. Airfoil Group can make your products more desirable to your target audiences. Connect with us today to start optimizing your communications strategy!


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