While 96% of car buyers researched online and consulted an average of six different online touch points, research showed that 98% of purchase decisions were still made at the physical dealership.
But COVID completely changed the car buying journey!
New reasons to shop emerged
With COVID, new forces were shaping the automotive market. Leveraging a semantic research tool, a technology that determines what users mean when they type in certain keywords, we identified multiple new need states and emerging consumer trends, such as:
1. 38% of the population abandoned public transit and could be looking for alternative modes of transportation. (GWI Spring 2020)
2. Divorce was rising +20%, which could bring a new type of consumer into the category (Nussbaum Family Law). Families who owned one high-end vehicle might consider trading it for two entry-level models.
3. Increased price sensitivity exacerbated by market uncertainty drove 37% of consumers to consider used vehicles. (Corus Auto Study 2020).
1- Adapt to cost-conscious consumers’ shopping journey
2- Finding data signals specific to new shopping behaviours
3- Integrate the dealership network
The Virtual Showroom is a one-stop shopping experience, based on a “choose your own adventure” concept. Consumers who were looking for a used car were led to the Virtual Showroom which pushed for a comparable new VW model, like a salesperson would. To bring it to life, we partnered up with AutoTrader, Canada’s 3rd party leader in new and used automotive marketplaces. Autotrader possessed the data, scale, and targeting capabilities to create this shopping experience. The showroom complemented Volkswagen’s corporate website through third-party endorsement (integration of AutoTrader’s editorial content) and providing the guidance between options (new and used) through spec comparisons and a chatbot.
The virtual showroom also recognized the critical role dealerships play in closing sales:
· Live nearby dealer listings, for all of VW’s 146 locations.
· Real-time tactical offers, linked to regional sales program
First, AutoTrader leveraged its organic traffic to drive visits to the showroom. Secondly, we activated the new audiences (divorce, etc.) outside and inside the walls of AutoTrader.
We personalized promotional creative specific to users’ reasons to shop in environments such as:
· “First-ever” bespoke Volkswagen-intender e-blast using AutoTrader’s first party in-market list
· Organic and boosted social amplification
· Corporate persona on LinkedIn
Unlike the corporate website, Volkswagen’s Virtual Showroom drove incrementality by also positioning our compelling new car offers to buyers newly considering a used vehicle due to the state of the economy.