The Situation: The automotive sales funnel is now gathering, organizing and channeling massive amounts of matched-up data on the personal buying habits, demographic characteristics, financial standing and lifestyle behavior of automotive consumers.
Big Daddy owns Big Data: The impact of “Big Data” is now revealing itself in all aspects of the lives and actions of the typical American, particularly when it comes to buying a car, a house or getting a job. It helped Taylor Swift launch her latest album (Red), the San Francisco Giants win the World Series and Barack Obama to gain reelection last week.
They know if you are being naughty or nice: AmEx and VISA know when and if you are having an affair — and that information is probably for sale. If they “miss” anything about what you are doing Internet providers, government and social media will pick it up.
Numbers nerds now rule: The “Numbers People” have gained a position of power that has been long sought and hard fought. It is now all about the analytics, anomalies and algorithms. Billy Beane has followers and groupies who are now doing whole seminars, company meetings, corporate marketing and consulting in every aspect of our economy.
Coming out of the tunnel funnel: Automotive marketers can still call it “The Funnel,” but is it any more? When one reads a cross section of the business media, listens to presentations at the recent Driving Sales Executive Summit and the J D Power Roundtables, and hears media briefings and demos from leading edge technology companies that serve dealers and OEM that the traditional Automotive Sales Funnel that we all talk and joist about has undergone a change that may make “The Funnel” turn into “The Tube” or maybe even “The Straw” (maybe even “The Bent Straw”).
What are we talking about, anyway? It now seems apparent that the OEMs, dealers and the industry systems technology companies have mobilized the systems. These companies have mobilized algorithmic programming, data acquisition sourcing, and mining data bases from every possible source such as banks, credit card services, retail establishments, financial services and Internet infrastructure companies. This data is aggregated, curated and delivered by huge database companies including Google, social media platforms and data storage farmers. All of this personal behavior data is then used to predict what vehicle you and I are about to buy, when and maybe even from what dealership and how we will finance the purchase.
When you move, they will, too: This predictive behavior “data” will be out there in the Cloud and will be monitored, mulled and monetized as “The Big Daddy Data Screen” tracks our online behavior, awaiting what is a clear “Internet Buying Signal.” Then, The Big Daddy Data Cloud will alert the manufacturers, dealers and their Internet sales teams about what they had observed and predicted was about to happen all along. That is, what a given consumer is going to buy or lease a particular brand, vehicle configuration, color and from where, probably this weekend…
What this may, could or might mean to the Automotive Retailing Community:
- Dealer sales leads are no more and no longer necessary.
- Vehicle sales transactions will occur largely online including brand and vehicle selection.
- The role of automotive sales people will become even more of a “Consultative Educator.” Few if any “Ups” coming in the front door.
- Marketing to the consumer will be done largely on social media platforms where people trust their friends and fellow “tribe” members.
- Relationship and reputational marketing and management at the dealer level will become more important.
- The Dealership or OEM that has the best database in-house and on the Cloud will win the sales and gain market share.
- The majority of consumers will be “okay” or comfortable with their lives and activities being virtually public. Smaller groups of older, rich and old school consumers will not use the Internet or will block access to their purchasing activities online and in the store.
- “Do Not Track” will become a widespread as “Do Not Call” — even though the latter seems to never have really worked for very long.
- Many of the services now being provided to dealers by Internet and industry providers will not be necessary, particularly as large companies like AutoTrader and DealerTrack keep buying up competitive or complementary providers and thus giving dealers all the “sales tools” that need to gain and service their customers.
- It is now possible for dealers and even OEM’s to gain “Customers For Life” or until the new “social mobility” spreads by building long term relationships, ongoing communications, trustful loyalty and an ability to literally keep track of exactly what their portfolio of individual customers are “doing,” buying, going and even thinking.