Internet connection has increasingly becoming a standard equipment in cars and other vehicles. This means, a large number of digital services will become available to drivers while at the same time, potentials for new business models, not only for automotive suppliers, arise. In this article, we will discuss the new approaches for marketing communication created by the connected car.

On-board Computer as a Channel for Marketing Communication

The internet-connected on-board computer is a core component of every connected car. Via on-board computers, you cannot only retrieve, e.g. traffic or entertainment information, but it can also serve as a channel for marketing and service communication. Similar to a smartphone, an on-board computer is essentially a format-neutral terminal device which can output different programs or media formats. These can be already established channels, such as email, mobile messenger or push messages from apps, but the development of a completely new format is also potentially feasible.
In any case, the content of the used format will need to be transmitted via voice output. In the case of email, this would mean that emails must contain an alternative version which is machine-readable. This version should also be significantly shortened and concentrate on the most essential content. A driver who has to listen to a one-minute long newsletter introduction will loose interest before the actual offers are read out to him.
The formats should also respond to voice commands. Example: a driver is interested in a particular offer of a fashion retailer. Via voice command he can place the product in his shopping cart, order it directly, have it delivered to a branch for fitting or even have it delivered to the particular location he is currently driving to. Alternatively, via his hands-free-kit he can be transferred to a member of staff of the fashion retailer who then initiates the desired steps.

BMW On-board Computer

BMW On-board Computer

Location-based Communication

GPS has become a standard feature of every on-board computer enabling thea loction-based output of marketing communication. There are generally two different options. The first one being the dynamic adaptation of the regular communication to the location. Example: a driver has subscribed to the weekly newsletter (or other information service) of a supermarket chain. The newsletter reaches him during his car journey. At the moment of usage, the system detects the location of the car and reads out the special offers of the nearest branch. “Only 500m more. If you shop within the next half an hour, you will receive an additional discount of 5%.” If the driver is interested, the navigation system is turned on and he will be directed to the shop or a nearby car park. The other option is the output of news according to location-based triggers. When the car is approaching the supermarket branch, e.g. when it is only 1 mile away, the driver receives the message. If the navigation system has a destination input and therefore knows where the driver wants to go, offers can be adjusted to his route. “You will arrive in Manchester at approximately 6pm. Surely, you’ll be hungry after your long drive. After the exit, our latest premium menu is waiting for you.”
The communication can become even more effective by including personal data of the driver (socio-demography, hobbies, product preferences, etc.): “The latest shoe style of your favourite brand is now available at half price.” More context in addition to the location can also help, e.g. time of day and weather. “Finished work already? Enjoy the evening sun with your favourite snacks.”
Location-based communication is not only suitable for marketing, but there are also many points of contact for services. Example: At the first indication of snow fall, a garage operator in Germany reminds his customers about the imminent winter tyre change and suggests branches in the proximity which still have last minute appointments available. If the customer is interested, he will be put through to the desired garage over the phone.

Use Vehicle Data for Service and Marketing Communication

Connected cars generate a large amount of data. This can be used for marketing and service communication by manufacturers and if the user has given his consent, it can also be used by third parties. We would like to illustrate this by means of three examples.
Fuel Consumption: Whether through flashing lights or noises, fuel indicators alert you when your car is running low on fuel. Furthermore, a petrol station operator could inform the driver via the on-board computer about the nearest branch, possibly with a discount or an free gift from the service station shop as an incentive so the driver doesn’t go to a competitor to fill up. If the destination of the journey is known, the communication can even happen in advance. “With your current consumption, your fuel will not last until Manchester. At our service station just before Stratford, you can get petrol at a special price.”
Wear and Tear: A car contains a number of components which can deteriorate or become damaged due to external factors. If the integrated sensors detect that a part needs to be changed or repaired, the driver can receive an quote from an authorised workshop in the proximity with the option to make an appointment.
Driving and Usage Behaviour: Details about the driving and usage behaviour can be used by manufacturers and dealers in order to make the driver suitable offers for a new car after a certain time period. Example: the driver has a small car which offers little storage space. According to the vehicle data, the driver travels often travels long distances and heavily loads the car. This sounds like the driver should rather have a larger, more comfortable car with a large boot. A perfect point of contact for the purchase of a new car.