The automotive industry is in a state of flux, disrupters across the spectrum are transforming the way consumers view brand ownership and mobility, and for the increasingly urbanised and younger generations owning a car may not be a necessity or priority. Furthermore, the current buying experience that revolves around sales-orientated out-of-town dealerships, doesn’t resonate with the way people shop today.
Sector-disrupting challenges are heading straight for automotive – from autonomous vehicles to smart cities that negate car ownership and ultimately the redefinition of what it means to be a car brand. Yes, these changes may not seem prescient, but by no account should they be ignored. If automotive brands can become more accessible to and find relevance with a consumer landscape that’s rapidly changing today, they stand the chance of adapting better to the challenges that loom in the future.
Recently we’ve been creating experiences that revolutionise the way people discover and ultimately buy cars. Our partnership with automotive pioneers Rockar for Jaguar Land Rover, Hyundai, Mitsubishi and Ford, as well as our work with Volkswagen, has demystified car buying by placing the product in more accessible locations (malls). We wanted to tell better brand and product stories, create more transparent and seamless customer journeys and ultimately give the customer more control by putting them at the heart of the experience. Bringing our expertise in defining and creating consumer experiences across sectors such as fashion, beauty, telecoms and banking, as well as our fresh perspective on automotive retail, is resulting in dynamic concepts with convenience, consumer engagement and a human level of service at their core.
Hyundai was Rockar’s first partner to launch a physical space. Rockar’s platform blends the best of on and offline by allowing the customer to purchase a vehicle in-store or complete the shopping journey later at online. For Hyundai, we found the old sales approach was a barrier for many customers, so we renamed the store staff ‘angels’ and ensured they offered a more approachable alternative to the dealership salesforce.
JLR also joined the Rockar ‘revolution’ opening its showroom in Westfield Stratford City. The space is tailored to different stages of the customer journey and designed with both JLR and Rockar’s brand values in mind. A gallery-style ‘white box’ entrance displays a regular rotation of cars, then the Create, Educate and Inform zones cater to all aspects of car buying, from browsing and consultation to choosing bespoke finishes.
We created Volkswagen’s inaugural store experience that vividly brings to life the benefits and joys of owning a Volkswagen vehicle, trading technical specifications for human connections and engaging storytelling. The customer journey has been designed to remove barriers to purchase and to offer a simple car-buying process.
After launching an online portal together with Rockar in late 2017, we helped launch a physical store to complete the brand’s customer experience. Conceived as a tranquil ‘Innovation Sanctuary’, the space concept instils the calm and quiet of hybrid vehicles, with subtle digital features enhancing the experience. It encourages slow-paced exploration around the benefits of owning a Mitsubishi as well as the company’s 100-year heritage and relatable owner stories.
In another bold move, Rockar partnered with Ford and Next to bring the concept to Next’s Arndale store. Occupying a prominent position, the space designed with different customer journeys in mind – from day-tripping families to trend-conscious millennials and of course passers-by that are new to Ford.
The future of car ownership is still developing, but what is clear is that unearthing how to better connect with, serve and support customers beyond the traditional transactional relationship is going to be essential for future proofing.
If you are interested in transforming your customer experience, would like to learn more about how we’ve created exciting concepts for sector-leading brands or are interested in our opinions on the future of automotive, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and email firstname.lastname@example.org
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