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Kevin Root Founder

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Competing on Customer Experience: The Tangible Impact to Volume Brands

Technology is disrupting the way most products and services are sold, and automotive retail is no exception. Car buyer expectations have grown exponentially over the past several years because of the power they hold in the palm of their hands – and their expectations are being shaped by experiences in other retail verticals. Plus, with pervasive vehicle quality improvements and the multitude of great product choices consumers have, it’s becoming more difficult for manufacturers and dealers to differentiate themselves.

Hyundai is tackling the need to differentiate head on by making the car buying process faster, easier and more convenient. They hired Root & Associates to research customer pain points and to get feedback on an industry-first program they were considering, designed to create a better retail experience.

The Approach

Root & Associates spent last summer visiting consumers in their homes and documenting how they researched and shopped for new cars. We drilled down to the emotions that guide them as they choose auto brands as well as one dealership over another. For busy consumers today, much of their frustration is related to the inconvenience of buying a car; it’s more stressful and more time consuming than purchasing most other products.

“Frictionless retail is happening all around us,” says Dean Evans, Hyundai Motor America’s CMO, But the “elephant in the room” is that car buying “doesn’t always pass the frictionless test” especially for millennials, who want to handle as much of the process online as possible. “Speed is the number one consumer demand today,” he added. That insight was then used to refine Hyundai’s new program, Shopper Assurance. It’s designed to make the car buying process more frictionless and make it simpler and less time consuming for customers. The four components of the Shopper Assurance program are:

  • Transparent Pricing
  • Streamlined Purchase
  • Flexible Test Drive
  • 3-Day Money Back Guarantee

Hyundai’s goal is to create a better car buying experience by making it faster, more convenient and more enjoyable. And to ultimately give their dealers tangible ways to differentiate themselves from local competitors. 

The Results

Does this improved buying convenience resonate with buyers? Hyundai asked that question too. We were surprised by what we heard during the concept testing; 84% of consumers told us that if all other things were equal, they would purchase from a dealership that offered these services over one that did not.

The consumes who were responding to the concepts initially did not know what brand was evaluating them. Once consumers learned who was behind these programs, consumers who said they would consider the Hyundai brand tripled (going from 20% to 66%), beating out volume brands like Honda, Toyota and Ford. That’s powerful.

After the initial concept testing, Hyundai piloted the program in four markets and Root & Associates surveyed buyers who actually experienced Shopper Assurance in action, as well as those who learned about it while at the dealership.

The results? Of those who used one or more components of Shopper Assurance Over half (56%) said that it played a role in their decision to purchase a Hyundai.

For both the dealer and the brand, trust, confidence and satisfaction dramatically increased. Of those who used a component during their purchase, 70% loved the process of buying their car and 65% said it was much better than their previous car purchase experiences.

With those kind of results, it’s not surprising that Hyundai’s Shopper Assurance program is rolling out nationally.

Like anything new, it’s not perfect in every way, but it does illustrate that focusing on improving convenience in the automotive retail shopping process goes a very long way with consumers. For Hyundai, it means that focusing on convenience and improving the consumer experience is not the exclusive domain of luxury brands any longer. For their dealers participating in the program, it is a tangible competitive differentiator and gives them the ability to compete on the customer’s experience.



Looking for more original research articles? Check out my Insights Blog.

Tori Zinger

It's so true! At this point in technology, product tends to be of comparable value across the board. You HAVE to have another differentiator to win the market.

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