The Los Angeles Autoshow is a time-honored tradition in Southern California, where auto-makers from all over the world exhibit new models and features. The show began in 1907 with 99 vehicles on display at Morley’s Skating Rink. Except for a brief hiatus in the 1940s, it’s happened every year since. This year, an estimated 900,000 arrived to check out the scene.
But as amongst all the coverage of new designs and functionality, it’s easy to forget that there is a larger narrative for marketers at every auto show. Besides all the floor models (and human models), there’s a tremendous amount that marketers can take away about the upcoming year in auto sales. Last year, it was all about touting green technology, and while that has not disappeared, there are a some new themes for marketers this year.
Fun Functionality – Automakers are eager to talk about novel functionality in their cars. Some of the ideas stick, some of them don’t, but the marketing message is clear: fun is in. The Ford Edge features Ford’s parking-assist technology. Auto-makers are dealing with a decrease in car ownership among teens, so injecting life with fun technology is sure to be an ongoing trend. Dashboards are also getting upgraded with seamless smartphone integration and digital radio options like TuneIn that can stream terrestrial signals from all around the nation.
Auto-makers are also doing more with less when it comes to engines. Porche’s Macan gets 400 horsepower out of a 3.6 liter engine, the Jaguar F-Type Coupe can go 0-60 with a V8, and Mini-Cooper is packing a punch with their turbocharged 3 and 4 cylinder models.
Efficiency with a dash of excess – When it comes to buying cars that make an eco-statement, consumers no longer have choose between Hummer and Prius. More and more auto-makers are providing options that are economical while still offering a sense of luxury. Take the new Chevy Colorado, which boasts a stylishly re-designed cabin. It comes with either 4 or 6 cylinders, and finds a great balance between power and fuel efficiency.
As the New York Daily News notes: “The midsize and compact pick-up market had been nearly abandoned but, with a fresh offering like this one, truck buyers will have an excellent reason to downsize.”
More Segmented Markets – Technology is enabling marketers to target certain demographics more efficiently than ever before, and that means that market diversification will only continue to increase. It’s getting harder to speak to the “American car buyer” in the general sense. Automakers like Kia are taking note and mixing affordable options with ultra-luxury options. Kia’s new K900 will have it’s advertising debut during the Super Bowl and starts at $50,000
Speaking with Autonews, Kia’s executive VP said.
The market is getting more and more fragmented, technology is going to play an even more pivotal role in the future which gives us an opportunity to enter a space that traditionally we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to,” said Tom Loveless, Kia’s executive vice president of U.S. sales.
He was not worried about their new K900, with a $50,000 price tag, stating certain markets were willing to pay top dollar for new brands. And according to some recent market research, digital is key to driving up perception premium perception on products.
Less Expensive Debuts – More segmented markets means a growth in less expensive debuts to accompany their more expensive counterparts.
The Fiat 500 “1957 edition” takes all the base specs of the affordable Fiat 500 line and gives it a retro flare. VW also unveiled their “e-Golf,” an affordable all electric vehicle. Another affordable model that stood out was the new Subaru WRX with a 2.0 liter engine.
It’s certainly an exciting time to be in the auto business. Technology is changing everything .. and not just by the prospect of self-driving cars. Innovations in mobile and digital technology — mobile parking-assist, digital radio, more seamless GPS — is revolutionizing what we are seeing on the roads. And just as importantly for marketers, revolutionizing ways to communicate to consumers.