New market research on consumers’ car parts buying behavior shows 3 big marketing opportunities for manufacturers

The growth of the Internet has opened the door for parts and accessories manufacturers to market direct-to-consumers (DTC) and that’s exactly what today’s digital savvy buyers want.

New Hedges & Company research shows consumers are increasingly going to manufacturer and brand websites as part of their shopping process.

The research showed 57% of buyers visited a manufacturer’s website when shopping for a recent purchase.

This was up from 43% who reported they had visited a manufacturer’s website in a 2013 auto parts purchase study by Millward Brown and Google.

Market research shows auto parts consumers are increasingly looking to interact directly with the brands they buy. They like to do their own research and form their own opinion about a product or company.

They no longer depend solely on retail outlets, either online or offline, as their main source for product information. The top three reasons given for visiting a manufacturer’s website were: to get detailed production information 94%; to determine whether the part would fit their vehicle 84%; to get installation instructions 57%.

Manufacturers need to respond to this change and adapt their marketing strategies to take advantage of the revenue opportunities and closer connection with their customers DTC offers.

Manufacturers can build a DTC channel by taking advantage of today’s marketing best practices in three main areas: digital marketing technology, online marketing search behavior, and content marketing.

1). Re-Tool Your Marketing With Digital Marketing Technology

The Internet makes it possible to be accessible to potential customers 24/7. Digital marketing allows manufacturers to go beyond traditional reach and frequency metrics and find consumers who are interested in the types of products they make, even if they aren’t familiar with them or their brand.

Hedges & Company research showed 85% of parts and accessories buyers did research before buying and of those, 93% went online as part of their shopping research.

Digital marketing offers companies an unprecedented level of precision in the ability to target and customize ads, and impressions to reach their best customers along with the flexibility to quickly change and react to new marketing opportunities.

Unlike other forms of marketing, digital marketing is not constrained by a particular subscription base, broadcast time, publication date or pre-defined demographic profile.

Age isn’t a bias in digital marketing, either. Research by Hedges & Company showed active online search behavior in all age groups, including those 65 years and older.  The study showed the types of websites visited were similar by age groups as well.

The most notable difference was more respondents under 54 spent time on social media sites and in automotive forums than those 55+ years old.

2). Re-Tool Your Online Marketing

To ensure buyers find your company or brand when shopping online, it’s important to understand how they search the Internet. Consumers search for ideas, solutions or products.

Phrases containing three or more words—called “long tail keywords”—are used billions of times online each day when shopping for parts and accessories.

Online parts buyers search using six common search types: Part type searches such as “pistons” or “gaskets”; year, make and model searches such as “2014 Ford F-150”; part function searches such as “turbocharging”; part symptoms such as “radiator leaking”; searches for specific brand names; and part number searches. Many of these search types use long-tail keywords.

Manufacturers using online paid search marketing with anything less than several thousand long-tail keyword phrases are limiting their marketing message to perhaps 10% of the total market. For this reason it important to do an audit of your online marketing and make sure you’re showing up for these common search types and for long-tail keywords appropriate for your products and fitments.

3). Re-Tool Your Content Marketing

Research showed consumers visit manufacturer websites to gather specific purchase-related information such as detailed product information and specific vehicle make, model.

Despite this, many manufacturer websites still have minimal product information—in some cases maybe a few bullet points—and cumbersome website search or navigation. This makes it difficult to “close the deal” with these high purchase intent consumers, which in turn may send them off to search for other brands.

Any company that can help a consumer decode the confusion by simplify the buying process will win the sale. This means making it easy for consumers to find what they want and need in order to make a buying decision. If you do that most times you will get the order, regardless of price.

The lack of product information has a product downside besides losing the sale. Product pages with minimal information, called thin content pages, don’t have much content to be indexed by search engines. This means these pages will not show up for organic, or non-paid, online search activity, which helps draw consumers to the website.

Any company that can help a consumer decode the confusion by simplify the buying is more likely to win the sale. This means making it easy for consumers to find what they want and need in order to make a buying decision. If you do that more times you will get the order, regardless of price.

Market research methodology

The data in this article is based on Hedges & Company market research. In 2016, over 1,100 consumer responses were collected from an online survey sent to over 100,000 randomly selected auto parts consumers in North America. Respondents were screened for parts and accessories purchase history and decision making ability and 80% of the respondents had purchased a part or accessory in the past month.

Quoting this article and the data

This article is copyrighted, but we encourage sharing so it is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and can be distributed or quoted, with credit given to Hedges & Company and a link back to this article.

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