Automotive marketing in 2020
It is no longer a secret, the integration of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality is disrupting the automotive industry. In recent years, the technology has been widely used for advertising purposes to modernize brand strategy for car manufacturers. Now we’re going even further than communication and brand image by addressing training and safety use-cases. Market players are exploring various experiences that immerse their customers and employees into a virtual world that perfectly imitates their real environment.
Given the pressure on automotive companies to reduce time-to-market and to continually improve quality, the industry has championed the use of VR and AR across a number of applications, including customer engagement, marketing, design, manufacturing, and training.
Two Major Pain-Points in the Industry:
1. Lack of attractiveness of physical dealerships and showrooms
2. Endless modifications generate budget overruns and delays
With the ongoing pandemic, the realities of lockdowns and remote work are coming home to roost. VR and virtual prototyping software seem more necessary than ever before. OEMs and dealerships have sensed the urgent need to break from the status-quo and adapt to changing circumstances by hedging their bets on solutions that possess an effective track record coupled with the potential for an impressive ROI, without ever compromising on efficiency and quality.
Be that as it may, this adoption to VR and AR was coming. In of those quirks that come with these "once-in-a-lifetime" events, the pandemic has merely accelerated the path towards immersive, remote solutions for cross-vertical business problems.
With the virtual approach, we are able to provide experiential marketing solutions that invoke a sense of awe and admiration among consumers. It’s critical for marketers to look beyond the current situation and gain a long-term view of the picture before pausing their marketing efforts. Immersive solutions allow automotive firms to jump into the consumer’s memory space, dig in and build a fortress there. These engaging experiences are just another form of innovative communication but what it provides is the potential to cut through the clutter and allow customer to take a leap of faith.
When it comes to design and manufacturing, the value addition by employing VR/AR solutions involve reduced prototyping costs, improved design feedback loop, and enhanced design review experience. Research indicates significant long-term cost reduction and 34.5% increase in productivity of technicians using VR/AR to train in manufacturing. We can undoubtedly say that this transition to a VR enabled workspace is going to shorten the development cycle and time–to-market.
Immersive experiences, whether they are AR or VR or a mix of the two, have an engagement that is seven times higher than a 2D video with a UGC rate of up to 40%
What can YOU do with virtual reality?
1. Immersive Showroom: VR technology allows car retailers to reduce showroom size, cut costs, and enhance customer experience all at the same time.
A VR enabled showroom not only imitates a real car but also provides real-time experience of occupying the car seat. Moreover, a customer can change the car’s configuration or colour in a matter of seconds by themselves.
Opening a car dealership is a necessary but a rather costly move given the current conditions. The cumulative cost of furniture, rent, demo cars, inventory, and salaries makes it hardly a viable venture especially when budgets are tight.
2. Virtual Test Drive: The car-buying experience is almost universally loathed. In-person negotiations are a hassle, and spending the day going from dealership to dealership to test drive cars is an experience that most consumers want to avoid at all costs especially with health and safety hazards in play. Now with virtual test drives everyone has the opportunity to ride a new car model, experience its interior and view car’s specifications in a safe and secure manner.
Such an application ensures that the customers are aware that the company is an innovative undertaking because of the use of modern promotion tools and state-of-the-art automotive solutions.
3. Virtual Assembly Training: Traditional training provides a solid theoretical basis but does not allow the assembly line employees to master their manual actions. As a result, new employees need additional support during the current adjustment period.
With the help of virtual reality, automakers can create a controlled and safe learning environment and increase the effectiveness of hands-on training. Virtual reality applications train assembly line workers for ergonomic and safe movements and moreover helps reduce occupational injuries that may occur on site.
4. Virtual Prototyping Training: Usually, the development of a new car model requires 50-70 intermediate prototypes. Even for large automobile companies, the production of physical prototypes is too expensive.
VR prototyping allows you to create full-scale 3D models of physical objects. As managers claim, the main goal of creating virtual reality prototypes is collaborative work on modeling, visualization, and analysis. Engineers and designers can use virtual reality technology to test different variations without excessive spending on intermediate physical mock-ups.
5. Design and Remote Collaboration: VR headsets allow designers and engineers to virtually enter developmental simulations, with motion tracking sensors detecting and tracking the locations and movement of all users, enabling each to participate accurately in real time. The system enables multiple individuals to simultaneously participate in design development processes, enabling increased cross-team collaboration than previously.
As a result, designers are able to review a multitude of design concepts earlier in the developmental process and in ways that were previously deemed to be physically impossible. The system simulates interior and exterior design elements, lighting, colours and materials, and even virtual environments themselves.
One popular use-case for Sales and Marketing: 3D configurators
Globally, more people are choosing to purchase goods online and automobile sales is not an exception to this trend. Moreover, the need for engaging online marketing avenues to bolster automotive sales is the need of the hour. Web configurators provide the ease of making selections and allow the luxury of transacting without having to manage crowds and transit times.
With today’s technology and design capability to add and adapt variables to sell customized finished products, combinations of variables can become nearly infinite. Online automobile configurators today play an essential role in reaching out to customers to help them find precisely the vehicle they may be seeking.
If you sell technical products such as the case in play, how do your customers know which parts are right for their needs? A well-designed configurator can handle these compatibility issues as well. This in turn can reduce the hardships of customer service for the retailer.
Live analytics to inform your decisions
Most significantly for the website owner, a configurator can contribute to a greatly increased conversion ratio that further drives in-store sales. Finally, by monitoring the configurator closely, a company can easily determine what their customers are thinking and what roadblocks are prevalent in the decision-making process. The most popular paths through your configurator are an excellent indicator of customer interest.
What can you do with Augmented Reality to improve your experiences?
1. Consumer education: AR has been used as a tool to better educate customers, particularly regarding technical information. The ability to overlay technical data onto real world vehicles to provide customers with contextual information that they can interact with, is much more compelling as an augmented reality experience than it is through more traditional channels such as online or video. Making the technical as accessible as possible is often a key part of the automotive sales process. Augmented reality provides a unique way for customers to see and experience technical features in a way that they will easily understand and quickly engage with.
2. Improving product experience: AR product visualisation is considered the ‘try before you buy’ for the digital age and, in the case of the automotive retail industry, 3D product visualisation with AR provides car dealerships with a unique way to showcase their car models. It enables customers to explore different specifications and configure different models, and then place and interact with their personally specced up new car at home on their drive or even in the context of the car showroom.
3. Driving in-store visits and sales: With customers beginning their purchase journey online and with all the relevant information at their disposal, automotive retail has had to shift from a product-driven to a customer-centric sales approach to adapt to shifting customer behavior and expectations.
This has paved the way for using augmented reality to digitise showrooms whilst also bypassing the problem of limited physical inventory as AR enables car dealers to present buyers with a complete range of models and specifications without actually placing test vehicles in the showroom.
In recent years, virtual reality has rapidly gone from being the subject of science fiction to the next big thing. Today, virtual reality automotive marketing isn’t just a potential new way of reaching customers, it’s one that is already being used to engage tech-savvy car buyers. With the proliferation and increasing accessibility of VR platforms, this immersive technology provides a new marketing channel with broad, effective reach and tremendous growth potential. For car dealerships, it is a vital area to begin thinking about—and those who start early could reap great benefits.
VR doesn’t need to simply replace the showroom, it can also expand it by allowing customers to interact with vehicles and options that are not available on the lot; whether a car is physically in the showroom becomes irrelevant to whether a customer steps into the dealership or the success of a sales presentation. As such, the dealership itself is no longer confined to its physical space or in-person inventory, but can meaningfully connect customers to its full range of offerings.