Eight out of the top 10 volume manufacturers are investing in creating their own social communities, some within their own websites, to help build customer retention and grow aftersales revenue.
New research from Motoring.co.uk, the new and used car buying community website, shows manufacturers have created dedicated pages in order to capture 'jewel in the crown' data from customers and Renault has created its online social community within its own website called ‘MyRenault’. Other manufacturers have started to follow suit like Toyota, Fiat, Hyundai and Kia.
According to Motoring.co.uk, the majority of ‘MyOEM’ pages and websites feature promotions and offers, together with a range of insurance products, all designed to generate customer loyalty for the brand.
The ‘MyRenault’ differs because it is building an online social community where consumers can chat, engage with one another and share their experiences in a similar way to social networks like Facebook.
While this is an innovative move by Renault and other car brands, it potentially falls short of creating critical data mass which is what car brands need.
Chris Green, co-founder and director at Motoring.co.uk, said: “The challenge for manufacturers is to maintain relationships with customers during the lifetime of their car ownership in order to breed retention.
“This growing trend among manufacturers to embrace and create a social community in order to help solve a change of ownership problem, is potentially flawed.
“Though manufacturers should be applauded for their online effort to build customer retention, the harsh reality is that success is down to engaging consumers and reaching out to as many owners as possible.
"Quite simply, manufacturer websites are not deemed by consumers as a destination for this sort of thing. Consumers visit manufacturer websites to look at pictures of cars, search approved used, configure cars and in some instances, order a brochure or book test drives.
“So the key question is, are these websites and pages doing enough to drive traffic and build loyalty? The simple answer is no. It is very difficult for manufacturers to do so, based on one brand. Consumers need a very good reason for returning to a website, or engaging in a community. The old adage ‘content is king’ is as true now, as it was when the Internet was born. Today, content has to capture the hearts and minds of consumers and have mass unique niche appeal, while pulling at consumer passions and interests.”
Green believes manufacturers need to fully engage on a weekly basis with lots of different types of automotive and relevant content.