The latest advanced data technology and targeted marketing resources are poised to potentially make 2020 the most wonderful time of the (very strange) year for auto dealers.
The year began with auto sales expected to near the 17 million mark. Projections dipped to 8.74 million in April with the rapid and widespread shutdown from the COVID-19 pandemic and climbed back up to 15.18 million in August1.
Expectations for 2020 Holiday Shopping
Auto dealers and lenders have felt the sharp back-and-forth swings of the pandemic economy, and are hoping to ride an upswing momentum heading into the final stretch of 2020. As part of this, gearing up for end-of-year sales and incentive-fueled holiday shopping promotions are sure to be a big part of the game plan.
Overall, retail forecasters are predicting a 1% - 1.5% increase in total U.S. consumer spending between November through January, and a 35% bump in seasonal online sales2.
Auto dealers are hoping to grab a piece of this by leveraging the right target-marketing data resources. With unemployment rates at an all-time high, it is important to understand a potential buyer’s household income and discretionary spending so the right incentives are offered to the right consumer.
How Auto Dealers Can Tap into the Holiday Shopping Pulse
New target-marketing data resources help dealers better identify consumers that are likely to be ready to take on new financing for an auto loan or lease. It can also better match those consumers to vehicle models that dealers have in supply based on how many of those consumers are likely to be able to afford. This is important because dealers and their marketing partners must re-evaluate their strategies in 2020 to better align with the changing consumer needs and financial capacities.
The COVID-19 pandemic certainly slowed economic growth, but it has done so in a way that’s different from past recessions. This year, consumers have been impacted in different ways during the pandemic. While some have increased savings and lowered debt, others have lost their jobs or experienced salary reductions.
Financial durability has become an important way to segment the economic health of households within the same credit bands. It considers a consumer’s assets, income from dividends and interest, retirement income, and the relationships between income, debt and spending. Today’s sophisticated economic anonymized marketing data resources tap into this information to help dealers make better and more precise decisions when putting an incentive-driven offer in front of a specific customer.
We now know that median credit scores, revolving credit utilization, monthly disposable income and debt-to-income ratios are all stronger today than during the Great Recession. Also, household deposits are four times as high, according to Equifax data3from June 2008 to December 2019.
Shifting to a Programmatic Audience Marketing Strategy
Another way dealers and marketing partners can see a better response from holiday incentives is to shift their traditional media strategy to a programmatic audience one.
Successful programmatic strategies are based on truly understanding their in-market shopping audience. However, just because a consumer is shopping for a car online doesn’t mean they can purchase it. For example, first-time buyers may have no idea if or what they can afford, and these waters have been muddied further by the pandemic economy. They may be shopping for a vehicle online without knowing if the payment fits into their budget or if they can get credit. Dealers and their marketing agency partners need to identify several intent signals, as well as financial capacity to target consumers who have:
- Income and assets: an anonymized estimate of household wealth based on data from trusted financial institutions
- Discretionary spending ability: a household’s spending power after accounting for the fixed expenses of life
- Credit capacity: estimated ability to obtain credit to purchase a car
- Propensity to buy: interest in your vehicle segment, make or model
With these strategies in place, dealers can better leverage today’s advanced target-marketing resources to make the most of their holiday shopping incentives and offers this end-of-year season.
As Senior Vice President and General Manager, Byron McDuffee leads Equifax's Automotive Services team. In this role, he provides strategic direction in aligning the Equifax automotive solutions team with the company’s broader vision for business transformation and program evolution, enabling automotive dealers, lenders and industry partners to maximize revenue potential.