The car business is in a constant state of change. This is due to four factors: technology, consumer expectations, economy, and dealership/OEM priorities. One thing that doesn't change is the need for dealers to market their inventory with solid strategies.
Let's take a look at the factors that influence how inventory is marketed, then we'll discuss the ways that dealers can take advantages of the changes that follow.
It wasn't very long ago that dealers, vendors, and even OEMs would laugh at the notion of people shopping for cars on their mobile devices. Sure, the old flip phones and Blackberries has the ability to surf the net, but it was normally driven by very slow connections and the small screen experience was abysmal on most sites.
We're not talking about decades ago. This was the way that mobile browsing worked for most consumers less than 7 years ago. It's the most obvious example of how technological changes have influenced how our industry operates. It won't be the last.
Within the changing paradigm of consumer expectations are two primary factors that influence them: age and sentiment. Millennials, for example, were not of much interest to dealers a few years ago for the simple reason that most of them were not of car-buying age. Today, a good chunk of them are and more of them are entering into the market for the first time every day.
The other aspect, sentiment, is driven by the changing geo-political structure. It is mercurial compared to just a couple of decades ago when brands were able to maintain strong positive sentiment for long periods of time. Today, the public opinion about a company can change as the result of a public relations blunder, a consumer group attack, or even a simple Tweet that goes viral.
Consumers today are less loyal to individual brands but more influenced by changes in the sentiment about particular cars, manufacturers, and dealers.
We're in a growth market. More people bought cars in 2013 than 2012. More people bought cars in 2014 than 2013. it's up for debate whether this trend will continue in 2015.
It isn't just about the condition of the general economy. There are other economic factors that influence the way that dealers should be marketing their inventory. For example, at the time of this article, gas prices are lower than they've been in years. This has an effect on sales of nearly all types of vehicles. The compacts, hybrids, and electric vehicles are less appealing than they were when gas was a dollar or two higher, while trucks and SUVs are more viable. This can change quickly.
Depending on what's in stock, a dealership has the need to push a particular model at any given point. Then, once you add in the requirements and incentives that the OEMs put out, they can put a focus on a different set of new vehicles.
The ability to be nimble and push the right inventory out to the right people is an extremely important part of inventory marketing in 2015.
What it All Means
All of these changes as part of the evolution of the car business means that dealers need to follow the best practices that seem to always be changing. There are always going to be new ways for dealers to market their inventory, but one thing definitely won't change: you have to be everywhere.
We can all look at the way that things are changing and make the decision that we have to constantly change the way we market, but that isn't necessarily the solution. Applying the data we have in hand to the various marketing venues is the key to successful inventory marketing in 2015. It can all seem very complex and in many ways it is. However, there are some things that are much simpler than they seem.