Business/Customer Intelligence & Data Science

Acxiom reveals 2023 Automotive Customer Experience Study Findings

New study confirms data and identity solutions are key to delivering better offerings and seamless, individualized experiences that influence what brands people buy and drive

Acxiom, the customer intelligence company whose data-driven solutions create business growth, revealed the findings of its 2023 Automotive Customer Experience Study at the CES Show on January 4, 2023, in Las Vegas. The survey explores customer experience (CX) expectations, people’s past experiences purchasing a vehicle, the influence connected technology has on CX, and how personalized CX might impact car-buying decisions in the future. Auto marketers and brands can leverage the report’s actionable insights to navigate the complexity of the car buying journey and create tailored experiences that people love and will keep coming back for more.

Today’s automotive customers expect auto advertisers to deliver messages tailored to their interests, confirming that personalization is essential for brand success. Yet, Acxiom’s report uncovers a missed opportunity when it comes to the personalized digital experience. Of the 1,528 American car owners surveyed, only about half (55%) feel their experience visiting an automotive manufacturer’s website was personalized when looking to purchase a vehicle. Fifty-four percent of respondents report a very or somewhat personalized experience when visiting a dealership website, and 41% believe their time spent visiting third-party websites while car shopping was personalized.

Seventy-four percent of those surveyed reveal the level of personalized CX experienced when purchasing a vehicle would influence the brand they choose next time. Further, 31% of respondents say the seamlessness of the CX influenced their last vehicle purchase, and 34% say they would have bought a different car if the CX had been more seamless and personalized.

Personalization is only possible through data and identity. The right data, combined with an effective identity-based marketing strategy, can help automotive brands better serve customers and create personalized experiences that make the journey to purchase and ownership more streamlined and intuitive.

“In response to evolving consumer expectations and recent industry headwinds, including the pandemic and low vehicle inventory, brands across the automotive industry have accelerated investments to digitally transform the retailing and vehicle ownership experience,” said John Campos, Industry Managing Director, Automotive at Acxiom. “The results from our survey validate that investments in technology and data that enable delightful, personalized CX can influence current and future purchase decisions. The results also confirm brands still have a significant opportunity to create more personal experiences.”

In addition to rising customer expectations, the research reveals:

  • Brands could be leaving money on the table. Survey respondents say a more personalized experience in the Financing and Insurance (F&I) office the last time they purchased a vehicle would have influenced their decision to buy additional F&I products and consider other financial products like auto and home insurance.
  • People want personal experiences from vehicle technology but aren’t interested in paying a lot for that CX. Most are more willing to share data about themselves or their driving patterns versus paying more than $25 per month in subscription fees.
  • The connected technology experiences people expect go beyond the vehicle, particularly when charging an electric vehicle (EV). More than half (60%) say the ability to charge outside the home is important when deciding to buy an EV, and 44% say the personalization of the charging experience is crucial to purchasing a vehicle powered by electricity. For example, about half (51%) also say having access to amenities like a retailer or convenience store while charging is a vital criterion for switching to electric.

“These survey findings highlight how critical it is for brands to have a genuine understanding of people and how hard it can be to deliver the right message at the right time,” said Steve Schmith, Director of Automotive Strategy. “Marketing as a one-size-fits-all mindset is long gone. As mobility continues to unfold and electrification, connected tech, and autonomy scale, the more brands can use data to understand people, the better they can activate that data in real-time using technology to create better experiences. And it will continue to be increasingly important that brands use data ethically and in ways that don’t infringe on consumer trust.”

Indeed, respondents also say brands can go too far in their efforts to personalize messaging. Messages that speak too specifically to life changes and problems or reflect the size and composition of someone’s family have the lowest impact on increasing purchase intent and, in fact, decrease the likelihood of buying the most.

“Automotive marketing is at a tipping point, with competition for buyers’ attention at an all-time high,” added Schmith. “Consumers are shifting to online shopping and multichannel interactions, increasingly demanding a more connected and tailored customer experience than in the past. In fact, Acxiom’s report confirms auto consumers value the customer experience almost as much as more traditional considerations like affordability, brand and design, and features. This change in consumer behavior means that now, more than ever, automotive brands should invest in their CX strategy and capabilities, not just during purchase, but at every step of the customer journey.”

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