There is a sense of irony in the statement that while we have not seen each other in the past 12 months, we are, in fact, more connected than ever before as a trade.
I don’t mean the ability to hold countless Zoom meetings with colleagues, but the ability to understand what is happening more in the market and react accordingly. We can also add to this the ability to see data and trends more clearly and to more accurately check the ‘temperature’ of the trade.
When the lockdown first hit on March 23, 2020, the industry hit the panic button and had genuine worries about its future. Discussions around cashflow, employees and day-to-day trading all surfaced across many industry forums, even before the hammer blow of the MOT extension hit.
Against this backdrop, and a key part of the conversation, was communication. With everyone retreating indoors, we were not, as a trade, initially properly equipped to inform customers of our own circumstances, and more importantly, how we as a trade could help.
Sure enough, the automotive aftermarket supply chain showed its resilient self, offering to help its local community to ensure critical workers could continue to move unrestricted.
In doing so, the trade found another ally – communication. Garages flocked to social media, going beyond the participation of forums to the creation of their own platforms and digital communication with customers.
In short, the automotive aftermarket has increased its digital literacy at a phenomenal rate, and it isn’t stopping.
In a survey carried out by Impression with aftermarket technicians towards the end of the year, we found that 42 percent of respondents had increased their usage of social media in 2020, 51 percent use social media to comment on automotive issues, and 58 percent are members on a social media automotive forum.
So where do we go from here? We’re seeing quite clearly that garages and motor factors have become very comfortable in using the platforms available to them and there is a dramatic rise in micro influencers.
Studies have shown more than 90 percent of consumers have more trust in recommendations from individuals than brand content Micro influencers are considered thought-leaders, making their endorsement an important one. As a result, their engagement is often higher too.
Now that the aftermarket has firmly embraced these forms of communication, they are starting to feel the tangible benefits and so expect this trend to continue. The storytelling has only just begun!
To receive more helpful tips and advice on PR and marketing, please contact Mark Field on email: firstname.lastname@example.org