By Kim Evenson, Senior Vice President, Marketing at MAX Digital
Amazon threatens entry into every retail category. In August of 2016 Amazon debuted an informational automotive section as an initial foray into the category. In February of 2018 they shared details on their approach in their blog titled, “How Amazon helps customers shop for cars.” The services they outlined then, providing information to help car buyers and making it easy to find parts for your vehicle, as well as collaborative tests with OEMs, haven’t yet changed a whole lot visibly. But consumers have.
The July 2019 Car Purchase Study from Mintel was recently released and overall people were split when asked about the future likelihood of buying a vehicle directly through Amazon. 38% of people felt it was likely, 20% were neutral and 42% considered it unlikely. Results were very different for Males 18-34. In this group 61% thought it was likely, while only 12% of males in this age range thought it was unlikely.
That demographic group matters to automotive for obvious reasons, as they are also the group with the highest vehicle purchase intent.
As referenced above, since the debut of Amazon’s informational vehicle section their efforts have been pretty quiet and stable on the surface. Amazon drives traffic to OEM sites to continue shopping and through their “Garage” features, encourage buying of parts through the Amazon site. They’ve been quietly expanding automotive purchase capabilities in Europe. Stateside they have recently expanded their contact with your customers and their cars through in-car delivery service for Amazon Prime members across select newer Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Volvo, Ford, Lincoln, Honda and Acura vehicles. Maybe you aren’t seeing these efforts as threatening or alarming yet. At best, it’s an uneasy peace. A lot like a tiger sleeping in your bedroom. The tiger is asleep, but it’s in YOUR bedroom.
For dealerships, while Carvana is the hot topic as an active and closer threat, Amazon is a retailing force that has a very close relationship with your core audience for automotive. So it’s not surprising that when your people were asked what they expected the future of automotive to look like that it included Amazon. The question is not IF, but WHEN Amazon will return focus to automotive retailing and how their efforts will reshape the industry. It’s our job to be wide awake and ready.
Before joining MAX Digital, Kim served as CMO for Legacy.com, CMO for Retrofit, and SVP of Marketing for eDiets.com. She spent most of her early marketing career at Kraft Foods, growing from Assistant Brand Manager to Director of Health & Wellness. Her experience also includes roles at Peapod, Starbucks, H.E. Butt Grocery and consulting for fitness retail, new product development and online marketing.
A native of Park Ridge, Illinois, she earned a Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.