Every industry is looking for new ways to exploit the Internet. When innovative marketers look at web developments, all they see are dollar signs. Savvy professionals use the web not only to increase direct ecommerce profit, but also to maximize the return on each marketing dollar spent.
It finally looks like the world’s luxury automakers are catching on to the trend; several of them have rolled out online campaigns aimed at reaching new customers. These carmakers are finally realizing that the new, gen-Y consumer interacts with information in a very different way than his or her parents. If marketing campaigns don’t have an online presence, then they might has well not exist. Other car-related industries jumped on the digital bandwagon long ago. Is there anyone who hasn’t been solicited to quote auto insurance online? So where are the car manufacturers?
Most of the Johnny-come-lately automakers have operations based in India. This list includes the top German trio, companies otherwise accustomed to exploiting razor’s edge technology. These automakers are now hoping that a revamped web presence will help them reach consumers in zones that lack dealership infrastructure.
According to a report on cartrade.com, the new online campaigns are going to be multiplatform. Expect to see new marketing strategies that incorporate smartphone and tablet applications as well as traditional web media. Mercedes-Benz is leading the pack. They recently doled out a new iPad application dubbed “iSales.” This app was developed to help buyers interact remotely with Mercedes-Benz dealerships. iSales allows customers to virtually inspect the merchandise, while instantaneously customizing their order.
Debashis Mitra, the Director of Sales and Marketing for Mercedes-Benz India, was quick to express the company’s enthusiasm for the new initiative. She hopes that iSales and other online ventures yet to come will grow to replace the old showrooms and brochures that previous generations used to select a vehicle. Her comments demonstrate that Mercedes-Benz recognizes the fact that today’s customer has a different set of needs. This modern consumer is far more concerned with speed and accessibility than actual in-person review.
After watching Mercedes-Benz execute on this latest strategy, fellow German automakers BMW and Audi threw their hats into the ring. Both companies unveiled iPad applications similar to Mercedes’ iSale. Industry watchers suspect that these quick responses are as much a comment at the slow pace of growth in sales as the evolving nature of online commerce. Sales have been sluggish for all three automakers and are expected to grow at a weak pace for the foreseeable future. It’s likely that luxury car manufacturers are trying to alter those projections by introducing game changing marketing strategies.
Audi India recently eclipsed BMW as the number one automaker in terms of sales. Audi posted impressive figures in June of 2012 relative to its closest German competitor. Both companies have taken note of the results and plan to continue shifting their concentrations from the old, mass media marketing approach to a new digitally oriented strategy. Audi has already launched an iPad application named “Audi Magazine India,” aimed not at augmenting, but at replacing the old print version. The app is currently available through the Indian Apple Store.