Cars.com continues to innovate for the automotive industry. In recent months, we have made significant progress in developing innovative products and setting ourselves apart in the marketplace while our competitors have retreated.
A New Vision for the Industry
A big highlight – and one that will have long-lasting impact – is Cars.com reinventing the future of our industry by launching The 4Ps of Automotive Marketing™.
The 4Ps of Automotive Marketing redefine the rules for creating enduring customer relationships in automotive. As we articulated in a recently published point of view, the new 4Ps – product, price, place, and person – emphasizes the shift away from “look at me” promotions and the importance of personal connections throughout the purchase process.
Today’s consumers are mobile and empowered – they expect transparency, which has had a dramatic impact on how dealerships share product and price information across the entire digital world and on the lot (place).
We have also made a number of product updates and innovations to support the 4P’s of Automotive Marketing vision, including:
- Best Match: an algorithm that delivers search recommendations customized for each specific user.
- Pricing transparency tools including price badging that uses vehicle-specific market demand to indicate whether a car is a “Great Deal,” “Good Deal,” “Fair Price” or “Well-Equipped.”
- Salesperson Connect™, a differentiated feature that allows shoppers to connect directly with their salesperson of choice for a more personalized shopping and buying experience.
The launch of Salesperson Connect reflects the consumer’s need for transparency across all industries. Shoppers want to read reviews before they buy products on Amazon. People prefer to read physician reviews as part of getting healthcare. A customer of Lyft and Uber wants to know the rating of the driver of the car they are about to order for a ride. Consumers also demand the same transparency before they visit a dealership or take a test drive with a stranger.
In a recent survey of more than 6,000 car buyers, 97 percent of them prefer to select a salesperson before walking into the showroom[i]. Salesperson Connect is a game changer – it saves time, for both dealers and for consumers, because these leads close faster.
Salesperson Connect also puts people back in the driver’s seat so consumers know who they will be working with before they visit the lot. Salesperson Connect, which is available only on Cars.com, is an example of how we are operationalizing our vision for the 4Ps – in this case, by empowering the fourth P: person . . . because, ultimately, people buy cars from people.
Investing in Our Brand
As competitors pulled back spend towards the end of the year, we have invested in our brand to be a more visible and differentiated growth partner to our dealers. For example, we launched a national advertising campaign (with new creative) which ran during the Major League Baseball post season and Premiere Week on major networks such as NBC, CBS and ABC. Our internal analysis revealed that the Cars.com MLB TV ad campaign helped drive more shoppers online to view inventory in the moments that matter.
OEMs and retailers that have invested in the 4Ps of Automotive Marketing are well positioned to surpass their goals and enter 2018 in a position of strength. Cars.com is committed to long-term growth and innovation. And, we’re continuing to make investments to build an enduring partner for our dealerships.
I’ve never been so excited about the future of automotive and our vision to create personal connections to fuel your growth.
[i] DealerRater Introduces Customer Connect, April 27, 2016.