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Revving Up Loyalty at the Marconi Automotive Museum

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The Marconi Automotive Museum in Southern California was the perfect backdrop for our roundtable event, during which we discussed the evolution of brand loyalty with leaders from several of the world’s most influential automobile manufacturers.  This is an important topic for the automotive and mobility industry, one that is front and center as emerging technology is creating new opportunities to improve customer experience and build stronger, more personal relationships with customers. With over $80M of exotic and rare automobiles surrounding us, the discussion felt even more special.   

Evolving Consumer Preferences and Emerging Tech


Today, OEMs spend billions of dollars building loyalty programs and thinking strategically about omnichannel customer experiences. All the hard work poured into that process can be undone if the dealership is still thinking in a transactional way.  At the same time, it’s important to remember that dealerships think in terms of transactions because of the way they are incentivized.   

We also discussed how consumers and their buying habits are changing.  Automotive purchasers no longer mainly consist of Baby Boomers and Gen X, but rather of Millennials and Gen Z. These younger generations have spent most, if not all, of their lives depending on computers and smartphones. A “Netflix” and “Amazon” effect is taking over consumer behavior, and the automotive industry will not be saved from the implications. These folks want a different experience built around their needs, not the outcomes of an incentive plan. 

The vehicles have also evolved, no longer differentiated by performance but by their software and connected capabilities.  

Brands Must Be Loyal to their Customers


I was pleased to find that the OEMs are building business cases and asking the right questions about how we can help the consumers.  Lasting relationships are two-way streets; we can no longer define brand loyalty as only a customer’s loyalty to the brand.  One of my favorite comments during the event from a major OEM was that we need to think not only about what the OEM wants for lifetime customer value and loyalty but also what our customers want and need. 

Solving the “Loyalty Dilemma” is an inflection point in automotive. What problems are we solving?  Are they the right problems? What is the generational impact of this solution?  Those are just some of the questions that over time we will answer.  Industry changes, consumer needs and preferences change, and it is time that all the players in the industry lock arms and address this challenge.  I love our clients who participate in the roundtables because they want to be changemakers in our industry. Sure the solution to lifetime customer value has ROI benefits for the OEM, but it also dramatically changes the relationship with their consumer.

At Perficient, automotive expertise helps clients achieve their goals, disrupt the industry, and accomplish things that give them a sustainable competitive advantage.  Let’s connect -I would love to continue the conversation and create something that helps improve your customers’ lives.

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Keith Tomatore

A long-time senior executive in the auto industry who has held the position of SVP, Retail Marketing at Global Team Blue (GTB, a WPP Company) on the Ford Retail Business. In this role, Keith worked with the Ford Dealer Associations across the country to help them with their Precision Marketing and digital efforts. Also, he served as CEO of iFrog Marketing Solutions, which focused on Automotive advertising solutions for Tier 2 and Tier 3.

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