Marketing Techniques That the Automobile Industry Uses on the Internet
The purpose of this discussion is to provide an analysis of the various marketing techniques that the automobile industry uses on the Internet. We will explore sites of automobile manufacturers and seek to understand how car manufacturers use marketing strategies to attract customers. Our investigation will also reveal the best and worst Internet sites that the industry has to offer.
The advent of the Internet has created a new breed of consumers who expect high quality service at very low prices. The automobile industry has recognized this trend and various manufacturers and dealers have opened up shop online. The websites of various manufacturers and dealers allow the consumer to see the makes and models available and the retail price of the car. This leads to a well-informed consumer that will not be taken advantage of when they arrive at the dealership. Mike Grogan of Success Magazine writes, "Auto dealers who are on the Internet have a big competitive advantage over those that are not online,...the ones that don't use the technology are going to get left behind. The Internet lets the dealer go where the customer wants to be."(Grogan)
The marketing strategies that the automobile industry uses include price comparisons, online quotes, online financing, brochures, customization, pictures and video of the exterior and interior of the vehicle. Many websites also allow consumers to communicate via email with their local dealers. In addition the sites use slick designs and simple navigation to capture the attention of the viewer.
The automobile industry also provides information to individuals that already own a vehicle such as maintenance and warranty information. All of these strategies create a confident and well-informed consumer.
This investigation explores twenty different sites of car manufacturers. The twenty manufacturer websites that I explored were Honda, General Motors, Fiat, Mitsubishi, Toyota, BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo, Bentley, Renault, Kia, Ford, Nissan, Hyundai, Daewoo, Daimler Chrysler, Suzuki, Mazda, Peugeot and Infinity.
The Best Manufacturer Sites
Honda manufactures automobiles under the brand name Honda and Acura. Hondacars.com provides consumers with a very simple black and white home page and allows viewers to locate a dealer, view models, and a page for owners' that provides information about vehicle maintenance and parts and services. The site provides 360° view of new vehicles through the use of photos and videos. This allows the consumer to view the interior and exterior of the vehicle with a few clicks of the mouse. The site also allows the consumer to customize a vehicle and view the MSRP. The Honda site is well designed and provides the consumer with relevant information. The simple design of the site provides for easy navigation and easy access to information that matters.
The marketing strategy of Honda is very simple they allow customers to see the price of a product and the products are placed on the website from the least expensive to the most expensive. The marketing strategy allows the consumer to quickly find the information needed so that they can make a purchasing decision.
BMW has several different sites I chose to focus on the American site, BMWUSA.com. This website is also very simple and designed in white and gray. The site allows perspective buyers to take a virtual tour and examine vehicle specs. The site also allows owners to purchase accessories and to become a part of the BMW owners' circle. Another feature of the website is online credit application so that perspective buyers are approved before they go to the dealership. In addition the site provides information on BMW certified used vehicles and dealers. The site is easy to navigate and does not contain an unnecessary amount of content.
The marketing strategy of BMW is to make it as simple as possible for a consumer to purchase a new or used vehicle. It allows customers to find a dealer close to them and provides the consumer with links to the dealership so that the consumer can view inventory. In addition the MSRP price is available to the consumer online which makes it difficult for a dealer to quote a price that is inflated.
The Toyota.com site has a basic design and does not contain any animation that is appealing to the eye. It allows consumers to locate a dealer and view new vehicles. The site provides pictures, prices, specification and warranty information on new vehicles. An impressive feature that the site provides is a compare feature; this allows the consumer to compare the price of the new Toyota they want to purchase to the price of other manufacturers cars in the same class. This price comparison allows the potential buyer to see the specification on each vehicle so that a decision can be made on which vehicle is a best buy. In addition the site provides information about renting a Toyota and Certified used Toyotas. The most innovative feature of the site is the page about future vehicle designs. This page allows buyers to see Toyota's new concept vehicles and designs that will be available in the fall. The site is relatively easy to navigate and provides very good information to the buyer.
Toyota's marketing strategy is somewhat unique in that it provides comparison pricing and allows consumers to view the companies' concept cars. The Toyota site was one of the best sites because it contained valuable content and allowed for easy navigation.
The Volkswagen site used the very calming colors of baby blue and burnt orange. The website features dealer information and allows potential buyers to build their own vehicle. It also features information about new car models such as the Luna Beetle and the Jetta GLI sport. The site is simple to navigate and provides useful information about the purchase of a new Volkswagen.
The marketing strategy that Volkswagen uses allows the consumer to receive quotes from their local dealership through email correspondence. It also serves to provide the consumer with the MSRP so that when the quote is received from the dealership the potential buyer knows whether or not the price is fair on inflated.
The Ford site also uses the calming colors of blue and gray on the website. The design of the website is very sleek and neat. The manufacturer also provides price comparisons and allows consumers to view pictures of the interior and exterior of vehicles. It also allows the potential buyer to gain access to local Ford dealerships and inventory of certified used cars.
The marketing strategy that Ford uses is a sleek design coupled with the ability to compare prices and customize a vehicle. The company also provides details of incentive programs and registration for Ford owners.
Infinity was the best site that I found. The site was simple and sleek and used colors that were similar to the other best picks. The home page features' flash animation and is elegant and subtle. The website allows consumers to view new models, acquire financing, and locate a dealer.
The marketing strategy combines modern design with the traditional information that buyers need to know before purchasing a vehicle. The site allows potential buyers to create their own vehicle and to examine the benefits of owning an infinity vehicle.
The Worst Manufacturer Sites
General Motors manufactures a myriad of automobiles under the names; GMC, Chevrolet, Saturn, Isuzu, Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Saab, Opel, Vauxhall, Holden and Hummer. The website is brightly decorated and uses flash animation to catch the eye of the viewer. GM.com is divided into three sections: The Company, Automotive and Beyond Automotive. For the purpose of this discussion we will focus on the automotive section, which provides information about vehicle shopping, auto brands, innovations and parts and services for consumers.
The automotive section allows the consumer to view the entire GM Global fleet of new cars. It also provides consumers with the latest incentive details such as "Summerdrive" and incentives for new graduates. The site also allows browsers to search for a used car online and locates the dealership nearest to the browser where the new or used vehicle can be found.
In addition the website allows the consumer to build their own vehicle including the type of transmission and the interior and exterior colors of the vehicle. Finally the site allows the consumer to calculate monthly payments and see the blue book value of their trade in.
The General Motors website is packed full of information but the viewer really has to search to find valuable information. In addition the site is rather difficult to navigate and some of the pages take a long time to load.
The marketing strategy is poorly executed because the site is junky and difficult to navigate. It is apparent the company is attempting to provide the consumer with as much information as possible. The problem with this is that the information that is provided is not relevant or essential to the purchase of a vehicle.