Shifting gears to drive resilience and recovery

The health and economic repercussions of this pandemic will force many industries to completely reinvent themselves. That is why the Capgemini Research Institute is releasing a series of research notes with pragmatic guidance on how organizations can take action on the things that matter in the wake of COVID-19.

Last week, Capgemini examined how consumer products and retail organizations can drive operational resilience and maintain their pre-crisis focus on customer relationships and engagement. This time with COVID-19 and the automotive consumer – How can automotive organizations re-engage consumers and reignite demand?, Capgemini broached key issues that will shape the future of the automotive industry. Capgemini showcase actions and examples that organizations can emulate to boost resilience and build their recovery plans.

To these ends, Capgemini surveyed more than 11,000 consumers from 11 countries representing 62% of global annual vehicle sales and found that health and safety concerns will continue to shape consumer behavior even after this crisis subsides. There will be a marked preference for individual mobility over public and shared modes of transport. Our research also shows the rekindling of interest in vehicle ownership among younger consumers along with a preference for digital engagement channels. At the same time, however, inevitable economic fallout and trends like work-from-home could dampen demand.

In a post-pandemic world, automotive organizations will have to respond to and leverage these shifting consumer trends to gain a competitive advantage. Those who are leading the way in offering a digital customer experience and innovative business models such as subscription and pay-per-use, are well placed to weather this storm. They also show us valuable lessons and examples of agile innovation for the automotive consumer.

To help understand the full implications of the COVID-19 crisis for the industry and its market – and provide insight into how companies can shape their response – Capgemini launched a global consumer-facing survey. This reached 11,000 consumers from 11 countries – the US, the UK, France, Germany, China, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Spain, and India. These countries together represent 62% of global annual passenger vehicle sales in 2019.

Compared to pre-COVID levels, consumers have made a significant shift to digital modes of interaction. “We had experienced a very sharp uptick in the number of digital inquiries we are getting,” said RC Bhargava, chairman of India’s largest automotive OEM – Maruti Suzuki. “More and more customers, because of the fear of contracting COVID-19 and this social distancing, will try and see how they can make maximum use of technology to buy car.”

Over a third (35%) of consumers are considering buying a car in 2020. China and India lead among the countries that have strong consumer intent to purchase, with a majority of consumers intending to buy a car in 2020. Sweden and the Netherlands are towards the lower end.