The new normal. I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase a time or two recently, as people continue to adjust to the massive disruption caused by COVID-19. But what is the new normal? And where does this leave the automotive industry? People have been forced to adapt (and quickly) to new realities they never considered possible. As unemployment climbs and businesses remain closed or prepare to meet new challenges, it can feel like nothing seems normal. While times are uncertain, and even feel dire, now is a good time for automotive marketers to take a step back, and assess who and where their shoppers are and make the most of their limited marketing resources to execute campaigns with precision.

For maybe the first time in their lives, many people find themselves working from and staying at home. This has created an inadvertent shift in how and where people interact with media. There is less reliance on surfing mobile devices and more eyes on desktop, TV and video than in years past, so now is not the time to halt marketing efforts. Instead, media experts in this field suggest redirecting and dialing up spend in these areas to capitalize on the increased attention. In addition to more eyes on screens, ad rates are cheaper due to falling demand. Now is the time to lean into desktop modality for ads/content and boost delivery of paid media.  With marketing budgets being squeezed, it is also essential to identify and focus on those consumers most likely to be in market to boost campaign efficiency.

It’s no secret that many of us are struggling with the new reality; either with or without employment, illness, homeschooling for the first time, etc. The one thing we seem to be able to rely on lately is people stepping up to come together. Automotive OEMs are rising up to meet the needs of their consumers through offering generous deals, like 0% financing and/or payment deferments. And these offers are working to drive consumers into action, even during these uncertain times.  Looking at consumer search behavior, it’s clear that they are low in the funnel searching terms like new and used car, and new and used car deals. These search terms continue to rise and recently hit a spike in May when dealerships began loosening some of the stay at home restrictions. This spike leads us to believe consumers are doing more car research and are looking to take advantage of these new OEM initiatives.

And furthermore, data proves that consumers are still in market.  Despite a major decline, sales haven’t stopped all together. On average 92% of franchise dealerships in the United States are reporting sales with many seeing around 12 sales a week. In addition to sales, there is an estimated 882,000-1,470,000 million vehicles that will have their leases mature between March and July of this year. And because of Covid-19, we’re predicting an increased demand in the next 2-3 years as people become hesitant towards using crowded public transportation. But, as states continue to expand and extend stay-at-home orders and production remains uncertain, consumers are growing anxious about what will be available on the market once shopping resumes.

Slowing down to understand this “new normal” and the changes it will bring will set your brand up for future success. Since data shows people are buying, help ease consumers’ anxiety by continuing brand or dealer level outreach. Use targeted marketing campaigns to help keep leads warm, so when they are safely able to shop again, they come to you. Take this opportunity to dive into your consumers’ needs, the new challenges they are facing and how they want to interact with your brand.

While COVID-19 has turned the world on its head, it’s not the time to go quiet. The world won’t be like this forever – and when things do return to “normal,” you want to ensure consumers think of you first. Help keep your brand top of mind with timely, relevant communications that are optimized to make the most of your marketing budgets.