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Gen Z (people born between 1996-2010) makes up approximately 32% of the global human population and has a spending power of more than $143 blillion.
For brands to win in the future, it’s critical to design new products, services and business models with them in mind.
With manufacturers focusing heavily on electrification targets, autonomous vehicles and better in-car tech, we wanted to shine a light on the customer experience, specifically focusing on what this might look like in the eyes of this emerging consumer.
Here’s our thoughts on the future customer experience, and the shift that OEMs and dealerships must make to win in the future.
Covid-19 has accelerated the trend to online shopping and will have a long-term impact on the way people buy online. We believe there will always be a place for physical retail, especially in the mobility sector, but it will transform from being about buying cars to experiencing brands – playing, interacting, learning and connecting with its values.
Today’s car dealership is a mix of stock room, show room, mechanic workshop and bank. If you’ve visited one recently, you’ll know that feeling. Once you’ve managed to park safely among the sardines of cars on the forecourt, you arrive inside a glass cathedral and immediately feel unsure of yourself. The established rules on how to behave and interact have suddenly become unclear – “it’s quiet in here. Am I allowed to sit down? Can I use that coffee machine? That car looks nice, would they mind if I sat in it? Oh here comes someone in a suit… act natural.”
Source: 2016 Beepi Consumer Automotive Index
Imagine entering a space and feeling like you instantly understood it. It’s got a layout and a vibe that feels reassuring and exciting at the same time. It’s obvious what they are selling, and they’re clearly excited for you to be a part of it.
You get a clear sense of the values of the company. You’re encouraged to explore the different materials and parts that make up the product, and you can see where each has come from.
Using the in-store tech, or your own device, you can spec your car and bring it to life there and then within the store. There’s a set of regular items such as prams, golf clubs and luggage for you to check the storage space will be right for you.
Based on your lifestyle and personality, you’re presented with a recommended package and price, which you can edit and build to personalise your experience.
There’s no formal desks or computer screens between staff and consumers here. The MUTO team is casually mingling, answering questions around the service and helping customers to build their profile and personal settings ahead of their new vehicle.
You head over to the coffee bar where you’re served by the MUTO virtual assistant. It’s a bit gimmicky , but when your delicious drink arrives, your confidence in MUTO grows.
All pricing is transparent and open, so there are no ‘tactics’ or negotiation skills required. It’s effortless, and everything you do in the store is saved on your device, ready to return to at any time.
The Coronavirus pandemic has made people more cautious of using shared transport, with 93% of people reported using personal vehicles more, and 20% of people that don’t have a car are now considering buying one. To deal with social distancing and local measures, dealerships and brands have further embraced digital showrooms, virtual test drives and at-home deliveries. These shifts in behaviour will not only persist, but Millennial and Gen-Z expectations will influence further digitisation and change.
While there are pockets of innovation and experiments, the traditional test-drive is still omnipresent and represents the single biggest sale opportunity for a dealership.
The test drive booking process is disconnected, taking on average over 9 hours for a response to an enquiry. When you do get into the car, if you have the sort where the salesperson sits next to you with a leather folder, it often feels more like a driving test than a test drive.
When it comes to the moment of purchase, the different vehicle specs and financial options can be mind-boggling, and there’s always that voice in the back of your head “when should I start haggling?”
Source: Arthur D. Little
Imagine being able to discover authentic content and experience the brand in the places where you naturally spend time online, doing your research by hearing from people you already trust and who share your values.
You can virtually test drive the car from your sofa and then seamlessly order a trial from your device.
Choose your model and spec, select a convenient date and add some details to start building your MUTO profile.
Before your trial, you receive interesting content and important information, welcoming you to the club and building your excitement for the imminent delivery.
The car is delivered to you at the time and place you requested. When you get in, it’s fully charged and personally welcomes you to the driving seat.
In the ‘Trial-24’ mode, the MUTO virtual assistant helps you to discover the full features and benefits of the car through a seamless onboarding programme, as well as providing some recommended routes to fully enjoy the vehicle.
When the 24-hour trial is up, you have the option to return the car, extend to a paid trial for 30 days, or keep the car with an all-inclusive MUTO membership plan.
There’s so much less pressure because it’s flexible - if the vehicle isn’t right for you, you can switch it. Need a bigger car at the weekends? no problem!
You’re hooked, and the car is yours at the click of a button. No wait, no effort, no stress.
Gen Z is more aware of environmental impact than any other generation. As well as looking at greener lifestyles for themselves, they’re also having a strong influence on their family’s choices.
The electric vehicle market is emerging and gathering momentum, particularly across Europe. In the race to win, there’s already a proliferation charging companies competing for the customer, creating a complex and inconsistent customer experience.
Imagine buying an EV and you collect it before your home charging point is installed. It’s your only car so you have to use a public point in the short term. You turn up to a charge point in a car park on very low battery. You download the relevant app to access this charging station, sign up and add payment details. You’re then told your access card will arrive in the post within a week so that you can start charging your vehicle.
It’s a true story, and seemingly a common issue!
Source: J.D. Power
Imagine having complete peace of mind that within your MUTO membership, you had priority access to all charging stations, at competitive rates.
You go on a trip to see your parents out of town. You’re running low on battery, so MUTO subtly highlights the best places to charge along your route. You make a quick stop on the motorway – there’s a rapid charge point at a good price. You stop to get enough charge to safely get you to your destination. When 10 minutes is up, you simply unplug and drive away – your MUTO account pays automatically – no need for any apps or cards.
Before you head home, you’ll need a full charge. There’s a MUTO destination point nearby so you book a slot to make sure it’s free for you when you arrive.
You pull up and the charge point welcomes you. And because you’ve hit a new green milestone, offers you a voucher for a free coffee whilst you wait.
You sit in the MUTO lounge, drinking your coffee and doing some online shopping.
In the future there could even be ‘charging lanes’ on our smart motorways. Simply change lanes when you need more charge on longer journeys.
Although MUTO is a fictional EV brand it’s clear to see that as Gen Z mature to driving age, companies like this will be needed. Brands that focus as much on their ethics, practices and social impact as the quality of their products and services.
Brands that deliver freedom, flexibility and exclusive experiences. Embracing new channels and forms of creativity to drive changes, particularly in sustainable ways to own and run vehicles.
Gen Z will choose to be loyal to brands that behave in a way that’s consistent with their own beliefs and values.
The challenge is considerable, but the opportunity is enormous. If like us, you’re always asking ‘where next?’ then we’d love to talk to you.