CarsDiva’s Blog

An Auto Industry Insider’s View…From A Woman’s Perspective

Archive for December, 2007

Car Buying + the Internet = the Creation of CarsDiva.com

Posted by carsdiva on December 18, 2007

Demetra Markopoulos with her Computer

My comments this time are in regards to the summary of a report I read by none other than Capgemini, the esteemed global consulting and technology firm, that recently performed a study on cars and the growing consumer trend with the Internet.  The article “Responding to Changing Consumer Trends and Buying Behavior” (http://us.capgemini.com/carsonline/), deals with the changing trends on the retail side of the automotive industry, based on recent studies performed in China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Capgemini found that “Consumers are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about vehicles as web sophistication grows, often putting them one step ahead of dealerships and automotive companies,” stated by Nick Gill, Global Leader, Automotive Sector, Capgemini.  It’s no surprise to find out that people are using the internet more and more to arm themselves when shopping for cars.  In fact, most consumers today begin their search process on the internet, as the transparent flow of information online keeps folks informed about what’s out there and puts them in the cat bird’s seat as a new or used car buyer (and some dealers even recognize this).  The internet provides useful websites from manufacturers, automotive vendors, and fellow consumers (think car-related blogs like mine!), where consumers can obtain valuable information regarding everything from the vehicle’s physical attributes, drive, and maintenance, to fair pricing, to financing, and so forth, before they make their final purchase.

The WAY the Internet is being used is changing!!!

The Capgemini surveys concludes that when consumers are researching their car purchases, 80% utilize the web as a tool.  No surprise there as well, but the trend that is changing is how the internet is being used to obtain both facts and objective perspectives.  Tools such as search engines, automotive blogs, and web forums are just some of the mechanisms that consumers are relying upon.  29% of those surveyed admitted that they refer to C2C, (consumer-to-consumer) sites as a major source for their information (that’s a 21% increase over the span of just 1 year.)  I think David Silver, entrepreneur and angel investor, made a very valid point in his recent book, “Smart Start-Ups,” when he said, “The wisdom of the crowds trumps the expert working alone.”  I mean seriously, think about when you’re contemplating a purchase, particularly a hefty investment- you consult with others right?  Friends, family, “experts”, they all give their two-cents and then [most often] you use a collaboration of that information to make your final decision.  Just look at the success of these forums and networking sites- how many users does MySpace have?  Oh that’s right, over 200,000 million and growing! That’s gotta tell you something about the current internet trends and how to target your audience using the Web, right?  Just a speculation…. I’m only observing the facts here guys….

So What Does this Mean for Car Dealers???

The most intelligent cookies in the box will be the ones who grasp this changing consumer trend, and leverage the internet as a viable channel for everything from marketing, to sales, to solving problems and answering questions based on consumer-to-consumer input.  Channel the “wisdom of crowds” and you have something, I think, so that’s what we want to try to do here as well.

Car in BagOn a related topic, from the “sell side,” a recent story in AutoRemarketing Magazine, “Dealers Spending More on Web Advertising, Marketing,” shows that dealers nationwide, in contrast, are making slow progress, based on studies performed by Jupiter Research and NADAguides.com examining Internet operations in dealerships, in reaching out to Internet consumers.  They found that since 2003, there’s been a 14% increase on the amount spent on online advertising and marketing.  Additionally, J.D. Power reported that about 61% of dealers nationwide use at least one [independent] online buying service, and many of them have signed up for several of these services. Still though, the vast majority still put the lion’s share of their advertising dollars in classified newspaper print advertising, although this media sector has been the “biggest loser” of advertising dollars that have been rechanneled to Internet marketing (in all sectors, not just automotive), and no one sees this trend doing anything other than accelerating rapidly.

Someone’s got the idea…

I think General Motors Corporation is on the right track by discussing the importance of the Web in future marketing.  I attended their Dealer Development program (encompassing both the Minority Dealer Development and Women’s Retail Initiative) last week in the North Central Region, and as they discussed the future of the domestic auto giant, a great deal of focus revolved around the Internet. They seem to agree that those dealers who understand and embrace the Internet in vehicle marketing will have the competitive advantage over the others in the market.  (More on the exciting and unique to all manufacturers, GM’s Women’s Retail Initiative, in my next blog entry….) 

New Opportunity to Ride the Wave…

So what can I conclude from all of this?  More or less the obvious, that is, the changes springing from the Internet innovation continues to create new opportunities, especially in the generally “slow to adopt new technologies” world of the automotive industry- new channels for how business is, or should/can be conducted.  Those who realize this and grasp the opportunity will be in the position to ride the wave.  And those who don’t? Well, one of the West Coast technology/auto mavens, Scott Painter of Zag, Inc. (formerly the first CEO of CarsDirect.com), has publically stated in a trade magazine that he thinks 1/3 of current automotive dealers will be out of business in 10 years, precisely because they will be slow to adapt Internet trends.  While I don’t agree with his dramatic assertion, I can certainly see the underlying reasoning behind it….

The “Diva” has spoken.

Advertisements

Posted in Car Shopping & the Internet | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Climbing the Ladder and Narrowing the Gap…Good Job for Lawyers (Never Thought I’d Say That…)

Posted by carsdiva on December 8, 2007

Nina Gussack, Chairwoman, Pepper Hamilton LLPJust a short note to say that, despite all the semi“car-related” lawyer jokes my colleague tells me: (like “what’s the   difference between a finding a deer run over by a motor vehicle and an attorney in the same condition?… there are skid marks in front of the deer,” etc.), as a follow-up to my last entry regarding the dichotomy between men and women in certain industries, it seems that more progress is made in some business fields as opposed to others.  I just had to mention the recent appointment of Nina Gussack to Chairwoman of Pepper Hamilton LLP, adding her to the list of very[few] women to make it to the top of America’s largest law firms.  Ms. Gussak was recognized as one of the biggest “rainmakers” at one of the nation’s largest law firms and her appointment was recognized by women nationwide.  It seems as if the “professions” (medicine, law, etc.) have progressed a bit more in “wearing the clothes of modernity” as it were…  At any rate, congratulations Ms. Gussack!

Posted in CarsDiva News | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »