March 14, 2011 06:44 ET

Car Brands Are Still Failing to Respond to Sales Enquiries, Highlighting Inherent Weaknesses in Their Ability to Protect or Grow Market Share

Survey shows brands have not improved the effectiveness of their lead management processes, leaving 61% of test drive requests unanswered within 4 days - and 45% not contacted at all(i).

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - March 14, 2011) - During November and December 2010 BearingPoint and Multi-M/IT repeated their comprehensive survey of car brands' response to sales enquiries. It revealed that, despite the fragile economic recovery, there is still widespread failure to act upon test drive requests from internet shoppers. Lead management seems to be an inherent weakness for the industry and demonstrates a failure to address the expectations of consumers who are close to making their purchase decision. It raises questions over the ability of manufacturers to maintain or grow their market share against a market background of weak demand across Europe and increasing customer expectations in respect to brand responsiveness.

The pan-European survey covered 19 brands in seven countries and involved researchers attempting to make more than 4,400 test drive and brochure requests via car brand web sites. The survey included traditional and emerging high volume markets and brands right across the price spectrum.

The results show that 42% of brochure requests resulted in no material being received within seven days – a slight improvement from last year's 44%. Even more critically, 61% of those asking for a test drive received no contact within four days, again a negligible improvement on last year's 63%. The seven and four day thresholds were retained for this year to enable comparison between 2010 and 2009. The actual expectation of consumers has of course advanced – with many internet shoppers experiencing same or next day response from other industries. At the close of the survey, which lasted for 14 days in each country, 45% of those asking for a test drive had still not been contacted.

James Rodger, Automotive Partner at BearingPoint, said: "This year's survey clearly demonstrates that none of the brands assessed have successfully addressed weaknesses in their lead management processes. This appears to be an endemic issue for an automotive industry confronting a prolonged period of weak consumer demand in Europe. Against this backdrop manufacturer growth will be increasingly dependent on their ability to take market share from their competitors, and the ability to quickly and efficiently respond to sales enquiries will be a key differentiator.

Rob Malyn, Director at Multi-M/IT, said:

"With the survey results almost unchanged from last year, manufacturers need to make sure that their marketing focus on broadcast advertising and their web presence is balanced with sufficient investment to ensure that every enquiry that is generated is managed effectively and efficiently.

The survey also reveals opportunities for investment in features and facilities within the brand websites and supporting 'back-office' which would make it easier for the consumer to do business with the brands – resulting in a better experience during the process of submitting the enquiry, and reducing the risk that the enquiry will not be responded to as quickly as expected. "

James Rodger concludes: "There is a real opportunity for car manufacturers to improve their responsiveness to prospective customers and thereby improve their sales performance. The key is to adopt a holistic end-to end approach to address the key elements of lead management, including the systems used, the people involved and the processes followed. It is particularly important to understand the respective roles and responsibilities of the brand and the retail channel as effective communication between all stakeholders is pivotal. Given the current difficult market conditions across Europe the benefits of investing in fixing lead management are substantial."

BearingPoint and Multi-M/IT both work extensively across the automotive sector and have helped a number of brands improve their processes, systems and results.

About BearingPoint:

BearingPoint is an independent pan-European management and technology consultancy. Run and owned by more than 120 Partners around Europe, BearingPoint offers its clients tangible results by gearing strategic advice to excellent implementation. The company currently employs 3,250 people in 14 European countries and serves clients in the commercial and financial industries as well as the public sector.

About Multi-M/IT:

Multi-M/IT is a privately owned company which specialises in CRM consultancy and full service Direct Marketing solutions for the automotive industry. Multi-M/IT currently employs a multinational team of 100 IT professionals and direct marketing specialists who serve clients in Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. The company has more than ten years experience of manufacturer and retailer lead management systems and processes.

* No response within the 14 day period of the survey.

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