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If you’re in the market to buy a car, you are likely aware of the high price associated with such a purchase. According to Car and Driver, car buyers paid 12.2% more for new vehicles in January of 2022 than in January of 2021. Used vehicle sales saw a price increase of more than 40% year-over-year. While car prices are expected to slowly decrease in the next couple of years (by mid 2024), as with many other sectors, the automotive sector will likely be forever changed by the pandemic.
However, while the industry has no-doubt transformed, the price of vehicles has soared, and chip shortages remain a problem, consumers still need to get from point A to point B, and cars are usually necessary to do so. In the Capital Region, an area with somewhat limited public transportation, this is particularly true. Roughly 180,400 Albany market adults will likely be purchasing or leasing a vehicle in the next year.* This is 15.8% of the total adult population in the region. In addition, 72,000 Albany market adults plan to purchase a new vehicle in the next year. Of those, 30,000 or 42% read the Times Union in print or online each week.
Furthermore, in the Albany DMA, the average planned spend on a new vehicle in the next year is $29,353, the average planned spend for a used vehicle is $13,751, and the average planned spend for a leased vehicle is $25,584. That’s more than $880 million in new vehicle sales coming from Times Union readers.
Not only is a large percentage of our readership in the market for a new vehicle in the coming months, we know from our partners at ENYCAR and through Polk Data Services (now IHS Markit) that overall, the Albany DMA was up about 4% from last year in vehicle sales. This was better than the national increase of only 3.4%. In addition, locally, about 80% of sales were light trucks and 20% were car sales.
As 26% of our audience has looked for automotive information online in the past month, we strongly encourage automotive brands to position themselves at the forefront of consumers’ minds as they shop for a new vehicle in the coming months. While there are nuances associated with automotive marketing, consumer decisions within the automotive industry are no different than consumer decisions within other verticals.
For auto retailers and brands, it is crucial to stay present and stay relevant. A few ways to do so include:
Even as the balance between inventory and sales is still a bit lopsided for some dealerships, remaining top of mind for the excited prospective car buyer is essential to maximize sales.
Raising brand awareness for a dealership is half the battle when it comes to increasing foot traffic to a physical location. If you can reach your target audience now, and reach them in a way your competitor isn’t, or reach them repeatedly to improve and expand brand awareness, you have a much better chance at taking advantage of the share of the market that is available.
While the vast majority of auto dealerships have an online presence (if yours doesn’t, talk to us!), the perceptive, forward-thinking dealerships have put a greater focus on the customer’s digital experience. It’s important to have a quality mobile app (or at the very least, a mobile-friendly website), use video to showcase vehicles and monitor what consumers have to say online (a positive online reputation directly correlates to an increase in revenue).
Auto dealerships that adapt quickly and transition to pre and post purchase experiences that are informative, streamlined, efficient and pleasant for consumers will benefit greatly. Through creative services, digital marketing services and web services, enacting a change in a dealership’s marketing approach is now easier than ever.
Last fall, Facebook announced new features and changes to automotive advertising on its platforms – namely its Marketplace Listings. The changes were designed to empower auto dealers, reduce reliance on other third-party marketplaces, and ultimately improve the end-user experience by connecting buyers more directly with dealerships.
As more than 1 in 3 people on Facebook in the United States use Marketplace to buy and sell items, it stands to reason that advertising a vehicle listing on the platform would be advantageous. Especially as Facebook Marketplace grew to 1 billion users in the first quarter of 2021. That’s a whole lot of potential eyeballs on your dealership’s listing.
Dealers are now able to:
While there have been some growing pains associated with the changes to Facebook marketplace for auto dealers, a great deal of benefits have been realized by consumers. And although some platform usage has changed, Facebook has ensured that its handle on the automotive advertising space is not diminished through the deployment of new ad categories that better target and engage with consumers.
For example, Facebook’s launch of Automotive Inventory Ads allows manufacturers and dealers to upload their entire catalog of vehicle inventory with relevant details such as make, model and year, and then show the most compelling inventory and features to the right audiences. These ads are dynamic and are optimized for people who are in the market for a vehicle. Facebook has also ensured that dealerships can drive AIA ads to a lead submission form, a website, or an on-Facebook vehicle detail page – making the entire sales process simpler.
While advertising on such a platform and utilizing the aforementioned ads can be incredibly beneficial for your organization, there can often be a learning curve associated with using the technology. We recommend discussing digital marketing options with your agency partner or with a marketing consultant before implanting a campaign. As changes come about quickly, making sure that you are keeping up and adapting is essential to stay ahead of your competition.
As the demand for vehicle purchases remains high, adding a little fuel to the marketing fire and differentiating your organization’s brand from the sea of auto dealerships in the market will drive traffic to your dealership – online and in-person. If your dealership needs some help on the advertising front, the Times Union Media Group is here to help.
Our qualified automotive digital marketing team can help you navigate the changes and implement new strategies for success. We’re here to help our automotive clients from campaign inception to launch. Reach out today if you would like to learn more!
*Source: Nielsen Scarborough. Albany DMA. 2022. R1 (Dec 2020 – Jan 2022).