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Automotive product launches in the digital era

Blog: Capgemini CTO Blog

What was once a mega, multi-city event that invited consumers to engage with a product, now has moved to the realm of digital, with new paradigms of customer engagement and interaction.

The annual events of leading technology giants such as Apple WWDC, Salesforce Dreamforce, and Dell World have all gone digital this year, aligning with consumer expectations and sentiments of ‘staying touchless’ and social distancing. Digital engagements are clearly here to stay – a recent report by the Capgemini Research Institute found that 62% of consumers expect to increase their use of touchless technologies even post crisis.

Driving in digital

Nowhere is this truer than in the auto sector, where auto shows and glamorous launch events were the norm. In a move to continue engaging buyers despite the various challenges, OEMs look towards promoting new vehicles through online launches. The advantages of such a move actually seem to outweigh live launches by ensuring a much wider reach and better cost optimization. However, because the segment is one in which the touch/ feel/ drive is an important component to close a sale, offline events cannot be completely ruled out. A hybrid of digital and virtual experiences may be the road ahead.

For example, Maruti Suzuki India’s new launch, the S-Cross Petrol version, was launched recently with press advertisements in the leading daily. The print ad was digitally enabled, so a customer using Google lens could watch the vehicle come live. Customers could also scan a QR code on the ad for a 3D augmented reality experience of the car. Customers had the option to try out various colors and features, to try out customizable options and experiences.

What to know moving ahead

Given that online launches may be the norm to come, or definitely stay in tandem with offline launches, here are a few activities that brands can take cognizance of to stay relevant with the consumer and position the brand well:

Scaling for success

The key to a successful digital product launch is to effectively integrate existing offline capabilities with technologies that help OEMs meet the changing consumer expectations and thus stay relevant.

A phygital approach is best suited wherein a company can design the product launch strategy using a host of digital technologies which do not just replace physical activities, but augment them. Hence, it is important to start by assessing the digital readiness and maturity. This will underpin the new launch strategy, and help craft effective and customized pre, present and post-launch activities; while also leaving room for personalization. Being digital-first and data-driven, the implementation of phygital will help deliver on successful launch strategy and measure relevant metrics across all stages.

Given that the road ahead in the foreseeable future is primarily online, digital launches are here to stay.

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Farhan Shaikh


Capgemini Invent


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