The Porsche Lover – Brand Loyal
In the previous example, with the car buyers whose primary constraint is price, brand takes a back seat. By comparison, for the consumer who is less price sensitive and more concerned with design and image, brand reputation is the essential factor in their decision making process. This is the profile of a car buyer who can be found at the OEM.com site of choice. For instance, a Porsche brand loyalist is going to spend a lot of time on Porsche.com learning about the Boxster that she already has her heart set on. She spends hours on the configurator, building her dream Boxster, trying out different options packages, colors, interiors, sound systems, etc. She’s even a member of the Porsche Club of America. When she’s finally ready, she finds the dealer in her area listed on Porsche.com and requests a call back. Having a good relationship with the dealer in her area is important to her because that’s where she’ll take her Boxster to be serviced. She has trust in the brand and there is very little risk that Porsche will lose her to a competitor. This is the type of customer who submits a lead at OEM.com. How many of her type are out there? The truth is, she’s a rare gem.
Image Conscious and Brand Curious - the BMW or the Jag?
Then there’s another type of brand loyalist. He really wants a BMW. Or, at least he thinks he wants one. He’s been driving Toyotas his whole life. Now that he’s gotten his promotion at work, he’s ready to make the switch to a luxury brand and has been researching the 3-Series. He spends time at Bmwusa.com, configuring the perfect 325i, but he’s also looking at 330s. Yet he’s not content to just hang around at Bmwusa.com. He goes surfing. Why not, when you can get all that great information at other sites? He visits Edmunds, MWerks.com - a BMW enthusiast site, and New-Cars.com. In his research, he learns about the 3-Series’ competitive set. The Audi A4 is cool and it’s in his price range. He’s seen a lot of A4s and 3-Series’ on the highway during his commute to work, and his neighbor drives an older A4. He also reads up on the Jaguar X-Type and learns it’s in his price range. He never considered a Jag before. He thought they were too expensive. Jaguar represents the height of luxury and is very sleek. He spends some time configurating the X-Type at Jaguarusa.com, but he doesn’t submit a lead because he’s not quite ready to buy and thinks he might get bombarded by dealers. Having seen the MSRP for each of the three vehicles he’s interested in at the OEM sites, but he wonders about invoice price and wants to read more reviews. He goes back to one of the third party sites to get more information and the true market value for each car. Once he’s comfortable enough with the amount of information he has, he’s ready to negotiate a price and schedule a test drive. He submits leads for all three models at the third party site where he got the best car reviews.
It’s a Broad Market
When it comes to the online automotive market place, dealers should cast a wide net in order to capture all online car buying interest in their vehicles. Consumers visit third party auto sites because they offer what they perceive to be unbiased information and the level of choice they expect. Internet customers, above all, love choice. Great brands can stand on their own, but consumers will always be on the lookout for choices and better deals. It’s human nature. This is why it is essential for dealers to be where online car buyers are – at third party auto sites - instead of passively waiting for consumers to come to them.