Thursday, Jun 08, 2023

TikTok and the virtual test drive: is this the future of car buying?

TikTok and the virtual test drive: is this the future of car buying?

As the motor industry continues to innovate, Jack Carter explains why the best place to experience a new car may be in the palm of your hand...

Volvo became the latest car maker to begin its farewell to internal combustion engines earlier this month, when it announced that by 2030 only fully electric cars will roll off its production line.

Similar pledges have been made by manufacturers including Jaguar Landrover and Ford, in evolutionary shifts that chime with the global push toward net-zero carbon emissions and consumer demand for electric vehicles (EVs).

But uniquely, if you want to buy an electric Volvo there will only be one place to go: online.

Volvo is selling EVs off its website rather than forecourt

The Swedish brand has scooped an industry first in selling its EVs off the website instead of off the forecourt. It’s a landmark move, and one that reflects a trend I’ve noticed among car makers who are seeking to forge more direct relationships with customers.

Many of us have barely got behind the wheel in the past year, due to adhering to government guidelines to avoid all but essential journeys, and the automotive industry is still recovering from the hit it has suffered in purchasing intent and mobility.

But at TikTok I’ve witnessed first-hand the agility with which automotive culture is adapting. The industry isn’t disappearing, it’s evolving.

Technology is powering changes in consumer habits

At the same time as lockdown put the brakes on traditional methods of buying a car, with dealerships shut for much of 2020 and 2021, it accelerated stay-at-home shopping – even for your new motor.

Technology is fuelling a sea-change in car mechanics, bringing us battery-powered, self-parking vehicles with increasing levels of autonomy and connectivity.

Technology is powering changes in consumer habits too; instead of trekking off to the dealership we are researching cars, virtually experiencing them and clicking to buy, all from the comfort of our own homes.

TikTok is the motor industry’s perfect partner

In this digitalised automotive landscape TikTok is the industry’s perfect partner, offering the authentic virtual showroom that inspires, informs and entertains.

Creativity thrives on TikTok and engagement with our users is organic, which makes it a hotbed for building the kind of long-term brand equity that will stay with the car buyers of today and tomorrow.

What television advertising has done for car brands in the past, TikTok can do now from the palm of your hand. Our medium is immersive, fit for the future and far-reaching; nearly seven in every 10 TikTok users are aged over 25, and we have over 100 million users in Europe alone.

When smart wanted to raise awareness of its all-electric range with a new audience in Germany, it chose TikTok to amplify its #AllElectricNow campaign, jumping on the popular trend of outfit changes and inviting users to show their transformation and where they get their power and energy from.

Using a Branded Hashtag Challenge, collaborations with TikTok creators, and a suite of Top View and In-Feed ads, smart turbocharged brand exposure, amassing over 850 million video views and showing that the next generation of car buyers are clearly interested in what smart has to offer; a greener, more sustainable electric car solution.

Not to be outdone by our German counterparts, we’ve seen the likes of BMW, Porsche, Mercedes and Skoda activate in the UK in recent months too, connecting with British car buyers across the country.

And of course, TikTok is a sound-on platform, so what better place to hear the roar –and soft purr – of a Lamborghini?

The supercar company launched on the platform in October of last year, bringing its playful side along with its luxury credentials; I hadn’t considered revving a Lambo engine to blow my autumn leaves away before, but having seen the brand’s TikTok video I’ll bear it in mind in future.

Mercedes-Benz have been early adopters too, bringing the playful part of their brand to TikTok.

While much is changing in the automotive world, buying a car is still one of life’s major moments. Creating that emotional bond between a consumer and a car brand is a long-term process, and TikTok is made for the job.

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