Automotive branding that’s revved up

image005To be successful, brands must marry experiences of both convenience and leisure into one omnichannel existence. If they don’t, they risk losing out on the time and money that consumers will inevitably spend elsewhere.

Despite online shopping’s convenience, physical stores have a massive opportunity to provide something additional: impact and market share – a fact evidenced by the number of online brands now moving back to the high street. Amazon, for example, is now driving engaging physical experiences to deeper the relationship with consumers through material bookstores. Having this presence builds trust, showcases products in their entirety and pushes conversion.

Get more than an experience

The best retail experiences are instinctively smart, entertaining, and take the hassle out of shopping whilst putting the fun back in. Above all else, good retail experiences today must reward shoppers with something they can’t get elsewhere, which exactly is what the next generation of automotive stores are doing.

They’re giving brands a chance to immerse customers in a playground. From Bingo Sports World in Tokyo providing a concierge service in store, to Courtesy Ford in New York offering a 24-hour service, brands are revving up in the experience stakes.

Three automotive customer experiences stand out today for the way they’re redefining the stores of the future:

image001The Ferrari/Maserati showroom in Las Vegas is located in the swish $2.7 billion Wynn Hotel. Full of flair and extravagance, the vehicles are showcased on granite and marble floors, enhancing the luxury experience. However, pushing the key act of ‘experience’, people will have to pay to witness this spectacle, with the hotel charging a $10 admission fee. This makes people feel like they are entering an amusement park, instead of a showroom and value the experience so much more.

image003The Club Aston at Galpin Aston Martin in Los Angeles is also known for carving out an innovative experience for consumers. The Californian store takes experience to a whole new level, and is described as the ‘closest thing to a James Bond adventure that most of us will ever see’. Car shopping made you thirsty? Salespeople are on hand to serve classic James Bond drinks. The club also requires an appointment and a thumbprint identification to open doors, creating an exclusive feel which customers will undoubtedly feel privileged to experience.

image009Meanwhile in Tokyo, the Lexus Intersect takes consumer experience to a whole other level, as the store features an in-store café and restaurant, incorporating a lounge area too. It is a shop ‘crafted for Lexus’. Far from just being a retail experience, the brand diverges into entertainment too, with fashion, design, technology, art and music events being held in the space. It has become a hub in the city, promoting new interactions between ideas, cultures, lifestyles and people.

These are stores of the experience economy; leisure destinations for consumers to spend time with the brand, coupled with a place for product contextualization to take place, while still removing barriers to purchase. Consumers want the moments and the buzz these experiences make possible. That’s what they need to find in-store, and that’s what retailers need to deliver.

Brands are creating ever-more imaginative ways to keep us interested and convince us to buy, and the automotive industry is only set to catapult into this mind set. The challenge is to create contexts and content for understanding within the customer experience – digital or physical. They are opportunities to overcome reservations, to remove barriers to purchase and to reassure consumers about their decision-making.

The answer lies in creating platforms to help customers understand the difference your product will make, designing experiences that let them imagine what their lives will be like if they owned it. It’s about giving consumers a robust rationale so they can validate their purchase, and explain, celebrate and share their decision. The automotive industry is well ahead of the game in creating experiences so powerful that the stores speak for themselves.

By Kevin Gill, CEO of Start