Brands, consumer experience, and the connected car

Future focus on ‘social’ in-car technology brings new meaning to the term ‘car share’.

Our culture has evolved to always be on. Consumers are connected 24 hours a day. Technology has widened their choices, provided more flexible buying options, and given them greater opportunities than ever before. And that in turn gives them power.

The traditional sell based on product availability, price, and location, has pretty much become irrelevant. The consumer is no longer restricted in their buying choices. The stark reality is that in a global marketplace, there’s a strong likelihood that whatever you’re selling, the consumer can get it somewhere else. It might even be cheaper, or more readily available.

But, there is a flipside to that coin. That global marketplace is also open to retailers and manufacturers, and one of the ways they can stand out from all that competition is by creating richer, more dynamic buying experiences. It’s a cultural trend that is clearly being picked up by the automotive industry.

Yesterday, at the Mobile World Congress, SEAT presented their new vision for a digital in-car ecosystem. Intended to be a gateway to a new form of interaction between car, driver, and environment, SEAT’s intent to be a front-runner in vehicle connectivity is clear. It includes a predictive assistant, helping drivers optimise their time and anticipating their needs, and real-time traffic forecasts, so you’re never late to work. Or perhaps just a recommendation where to stop for breakfast en route. Regardless, it seems our cars (or at least their operating system), will soon be taking part in the conversation. After all, we already talk to our phones and other digital devices. Whether it’s Siri, Alexa, or Cortana, the functions Seat are exploring are already an influential part of our consumer experience. And for those of us who remember the 80s, being able to talk to your car probably holds some retro appeal too.

Our cars are already equipped with innovative location based services, progressive, integrated technology like Apple’s CarPlay, and complex systems governing the serious computing power that goes into a modern vehicle. The untapped potential is huge, and manufacturers are beginning to realise the opportunity it provides.

Ford are another major brand rethinking their relationship with their customers. Their new FordPass® App is expected to generate daily interactions with Ford drivers, creating highly valuable buyer intelligence at the same time. In turn, that can be used to positively influence the consumer experience and make it more personal and rewarding.

As these new technologies, and economies like mobile payments, sharable ownership, and even our health and well-being become integrated into our cars, the new services and ease of lifestyle they offer are likely to increase our brand loyalty and attachment. And for that reason, the cars of the future will be the platform of choice for redefining and expanding the consumer experience.

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Author: Luke Phillips (40 Articles)