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Evolution of the car buyer

As technology transforms not just the vehicles but the entire transport model per se, we will see a significant evolution of automobile consumers. Man and machine have forged a strong relationship over the last century. However, this relationship is undergoing a rapid change.

Pride of membership will rise as pride of ownership wanes– New age consumers no longer like to posses automobiles and bother with the associated headaches – searching, financing, fuelling, servicing, insuring, driving and parking. Ride share services take care of all the associated hassles. But sharing economy also robs consumers the badge they proudly carry with the ownership of cars. As ride/ transportation share services start to overtake ownership, new niches of such services will emerge which will provide enhanced services, albeit at a premium. Membership itself maybe exclusive and come at a price. Reasons for premium may vary with emerging sensibilities – e.g. cleaner is better. Pride of being part of the relevant and exclusive club will segment the consumers rather than the current segmentation by car size, power and badge.

From ‘Drive to…’ to ‘Drive to me’– A number of services would start getting driven in to consumers, rather than they driving to it. From meals on wheels to travelling shops and experience centers. Food trucks are seen all over. eCommerce on wheels being explored at places. Demand for ‘Field trip to Mars’ like experiences would become commonplace in the next 10 years. The ‘drive to me’ economy is likely to have its impact on prime real estate as well, with not many stores feeling the need to pay very high rentals when they could provide a much better experience to customers right at their homes.

Not just a means of transport– With the effort of selecting a means of transport and then driving it to destination, out of the way, consumers will find time to do meaningful things with the travelling spaces these vehicles would become. Travelling offices, travelling entertainment, travelling hang out zones even travelling homes. Thus choice of vehicle and service would vary by ‘what you want to do in it’ rather than ‘where you go in it’. Future automobiles and transport services are likely to provide a continuum between home, work and recreation.

In many aspects, we are observing that the car buyer is moving faster than the changes the industry is ready for, allowing outside players to come in and take dominant positions in a short span of time. Ride share brands and large technology companies have driven stakes into the hallowed ground on the back of these sifting consumer trends.

Automobile companies will need to spend as much understanding consumer trends as they do developing new vehicles to stay ahead of the game.

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