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 / Second Quarter 2002 / Issue 27(originally published by Booz & Company)


Information Is the Fuel for Automotive CRM

Postpurchase, another interactive technology — vehicle-based telematics — can help automotive marketers comprehend the intricacies of the ownership experience. Telematics are the growing number of wireless devices that seamlessly capture and communicate vehicle data, enabling the automotive marketer to understand the driver’s usage requirements, influence downstream services, and facilitate remarketing. Telematics, whose use is increasing, allow vehicle relationship management to buttress customer relationship management.

Already, the OnStar system and “black box” programs innovated by companies like GM and Peugeot are returning vehicle and customer data to companies, which enable them, in turn, to shape concierge services and maintenance programs for individual customers. A Booz Allen Hamilton analysis projects telematics revenues of $20 billion to $40 billion within the next 10 years.

Adapting to telematics will not be easy for automakers. There is the ongoing difficulty of shifting from marketing that is built on the concept of mass advertising to marketing that is premised on intimate customer understanding. Auto companies also need to overcome their historical “slow follower” habits relative to technology. And the strategic plays around telematics can be complex, requiring both defensive postures, to protect existing business territory, and offensive maneuvering, to create value beyond the existing business.

The greatest challenge for the manufacturers and the dealers is to partner around this intimate customer information, so that the data can flow seamlessly up and down the chain. Only through such partnerships will the average salesperson be able to craft plans relevant to consumers walking into the dealership, offering each potential buyer excitement — excitement shaped by the right value proposition.

Steven Wheeler, [email protected]
Steven Wheeler is a senior vice president with Booz Allen Hamilton in Munich and Cleveland, Ohio. He has 17 years of experience in the automotive industry, focusing on downstream issues such as lifecycle, customer and vehicle management, and distribution channels. He is coauthor, with Evan Hirsh, of Channel Champions: How Leading Companies Build New Strategies to Serve Customers (Jossey-Bass Inc., 1999).
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