Automotive Retail in the Age of the Empowered Customer
The “Age of Information” dominated the ‘90s and early 2000s with major shifts in technology and data. But 2010 ushered in the “Age of the Customer,” where empowered customers began to have a much stronger influence on commerce and business. Quickly, customers’ demands began to drive business decisions – consumers were no longer just “consumers” – using only the product or service that was provided. Instead, their preferences, habits and desires began to dictate what businesses created, how they did business, and even the political organizations they aligned themselves with.
Technology played a key role in this evolution. The proliferation of smartphones gave consumers the power to research and blended their online and offline experience. Social media provided a direct feedback loop and gave customers a platform to share their opinions broadly. Experiences, both positive and negative, that used to be limited to a customer’s immediate network suddenly had the potential to be shared with others across the globe. This means that businesses can no longer be simply focused on the customer – the customer has to be at the center of every decision.