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Consumer trends that are changing the industry

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 09:00
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In recent years we’ve seen dramatic transformations in a variety of industries, changes triggered by developments in emerging markets, technological innovations, and a shift in consumer preferences. Among the industries most affected is automotive.

For most of us, that comes as no surprise. The conveniences and access to information consumers are enjoying in other areas of their lives, they’re also demanding from automakers. From flexible ownership to automation to transparency in manufacturing practices, consumer trends are driving this industry.

But how will these demands impact these automakers? Let’s take a look.

Ridesharing services
Many of today’s consumers are treating mobility in the strictest sense of the word—they just want to get from one place to another however they can, whenever they need to. With car ownership no longer the status symbol it once was, ridesharing—options that treat transportation as a service—is on the rise. Companies like Uber or Zipcar allow consumers to select a vehicle appropriate for their needs at that particular time. A local dinner date for two and a cross-country family vacation for four require different options. Choosing mobility over ownership provides consumers with flexibility and potential savings.

Buying vs. leasing
In the past few years, U.S. consumer leasing has risen higher than at any point in more than a decade. For many consumers, but particularly Millennials, monthly charges for everything from rent to phones to vehicles are just part of life. But technology may also be driving the trending lease increase. It seems like a new feature is introduced with each new vehicle release. Many consumers are motivated by having access to the latest tech and don’t want to be locked into the same vehicle for 5-to-10 years. Taking advantage of flipping a vehicle lease every year or two allows them to keep up with automotive tech, trends, and tastes.

Interest in autonomy
While truly autonomous vehicles seem to be a far off reality for many consumers, it hasn’t stifled their interest. Smart or connected vehicles have moved from the drawing board to the streets. Widely considered the precursor to automated, self-driving vehicles, these advancements have given drivers a taste of the autonomous through relinquished control of specific functions. For example, intuitive cruise control that reacts to road conditions, and accident avoidance functionality. These little tech tweaks are readying consumers for an automotive future that’s automatic.

Process and practices
As with many industries, automotive consumers have a growing desire to gain an understanding into the process behind the production. On the whole, many of today’s consumers want to ensure safe and sustainable practices. More than ever before, customers are focused on the environmental impact of their cars. Greater pressure is being put on automakers to develop more fuel-efficient engines, greater safety features, and alternative powertrains. And not just by consumers, but the government as well. It’s a desire for improvement and transparency that every automaker should be prepared for.

These four trends will absolutely impact how automotive professionals operate in the next few years. Stricter requirements and knowledgeable consumers will continue to change and influence the industry as we know it.

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