recently talked with automotive industry leaders to get their thoughts on trends that will affect the industry in 2018. Following are insights from Brian Pasch, founder of PCG Companies. Among other predictions, Brian sees technologies such as artificial intelligence changing the way consumers shop for cars. Thank you for sharing, Brian!

How will the 4Ps of Automotive Marketing™ affect the way dealers operate in 2018?

 Adding reviews of sales associates on VDPs — via the “Salesperson Connect” feature — will be received positively by consumers. As more data is published based on engagement with featured sales associates, I believe that this feature will continue to grow in popularity.

How do you think the relationship between the consumer and the salesperson will change in 2018?

The relationship between consumers and dealers has to become more tightly integrated with the technology platforms consumers use to communicate. Dealers have not completely figured out how to use text messaging, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger in a seamless communications stream. Email and phone are still the primary ways in which dealers approach leads, which goes in direct opposition to how many consumers choose to engage with friends and brands.

What’s the biggest change you see in the way consumers shop for cars?

Instead of doing a traditional search by year, make, and model, consumers will use AI (artificial intelligence) to talk to third-party portals and websites, and have the AI engine display the cars that match their intent. Voice search will also play a role in navigating vehicle choices and dealers that consumers visit. I love my Amazon Alexa assistant, and as more technology and shopping sites integrate with Alexa, the way in which consumers shop for and buy products will change.

Other predictions?

Facebook will start to gain a larger percentage of dealership marketing dollars as lead and traffic quality show superior to other channels.

New simplification to dealership website design will include an AI chatbot that will take consumers to the products they are interested in, instead of navigating normal menu systems.

When dealers start to build competent attribution models, their perceptions of third-party platforms will change. They will realize that high-performance portals deliver outstanding value for their advertising dollars.