The Corona Virus pandemic has changed the car/bike purchase journey considerably
Buyers are trying to minimize their exposure as much as possible by reducing unnecessary human contact. Unsurprisingly digital has come out as the preferred means of communication/enquiry for many.
Data sets reveal that digital leads for car manufacturers have seen a considerable rise in the last 4 months or so. Country’s largest car manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki, which almost produces 1 out of 2 cars sold in India too has registered 45% spike in its digital enquires during the lockdown.
Digital Enquiries Leading the Curve
Till now, Maruti has already digitized 21 out of 26 touch points in a customer’s car purchase journey. Now going ahead, it has started a new pilot to digitally bring in a Finance marketplace for the customer. It will help the car buyer in easily accessing multiple financing options online. Based upon the learnings from the project, Maruti plans to switch over to fully digital financing options for its entire portfolio, across the country by early 2021.
Nation-wide car sales had become 0 in the month of April’20. However with relaxing lockdown norms, car sales have slowly picked up. With increased focus on social distancing, customers are preferring to stay away from showrooms, except for critical interactions like test drives etc.
For Maruti, Digital queries contributed to 5% enquiries in FY’18 and later their contribution went up to 13% in FY19. However now during the lockdown, digital enquiries have contributed to upto 45% of all sales enquiries, which clearly showcases the changing customer preferences and buying behaviour.
Unsurprisingly, digital is Maruti’s largest medium for enquiries currently. Hence, it makes complete sense as an OEM for Maruti to further strengthen its digital presence and offerings. As a customer too it will be beneficial to get all financing related details digitally as it will reduce unnecessary human contact and bring in greater transparency.
Digital & Beyond
Additionally, Maruti has been working upon personalizing communication for its customers. It intends to leverage its digital platforms to provide best in class car buying experience. Maruti’s Executive Director for Sales and Marketing, Mr. Shashank Srivastava recently stated, “Staying connected with the customer throughout the year is a priority for us because on digital, she need not wait for a marketing campaign, instead she can be reached out on demand”, (with she being a reference to a potential customer).
He further added that Maruti is following an ‘always-on’ approach for its campaigns across all channels. Maruti has been using its digital Customer Relationship Management tool to provide a connected digital experience to all its prospective buyers. The same platform has helped the company with digital insights which help the OEM to plan on engaging content marketing strategies as well.