Selling the “Extras”: How Auto Dealers Can Guide Consumers to the Features They Need

A Generation of Customizations

Since the 1980’s, consumers have warmed up to the idea of having products that meet their exact needs and specifications. The days of Henry Ford’s belief that: “any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black,” are long gone. People want cars that express who they are and have features that are most relevant. According to a 2016 Specialty Equipment Manufacturing Association study, younger generations spent over $4 billion customizing their vehicles. While many of these customizations are aesthetically based, consumers also want their vehicles to address issues of safety, driver comfort, and location tracking.

What are This Year’s Most Anticipated Features?

According to a Forbes article, some of the most anticipated car features of 2017 were headrest video screens, guidance cameras, spinal support seats, keyless entry devices, run-off road mitigation and many others. Consumer Reports also listed many of the same features but also included automatic emergency breaking, USB Ports, automatic high beams and anti-collision warnings. These functions are listed as those that carmakers have taken a keen interest in improving for 2017. However, what exactly are consumers looking for in their cars? What features would consumers like to either have included or customized?  

What Do Car Buyers Actually Want in a Car?

A 2015 study by Autopacific listed the top 15 features car buyers most want. The top three items are power driver’s seats at 79% demand, heated seats at 70% demand and active blind spot protection systems at 65% demand. USB ports, leather seats, push-button ignition and voice activated controls also made the list. The study also looked at attributes that were the most important to new car buyers. 90% of the 66,000 individuals surveyed said safety features were of high importance in their car buying decision. Durability and handling and the feeling of the vehicle’s ride were one and two respectively, with safety being the sixth. Interestingly enough, even though car buyers rated safety as a large deciding factor in the car they ultimately purchased, the most wanted features had to do with driver comfort rather than safety.  

How Dealers Can Guide Consumers to What They Need

Now that we know the features and attributes car buyers are looking for, how can car dealers use this knowledge to better connect with buyers? listed 25 car-selling tips for dealers, and there were three in particular that can be used to connect car buyers with the features they most desire.

Every car buyer is different – Each person has different motivations for why they are seeking a vehicle. For example, if a couple is looking to upgrade their coup to a minivan because of a growing family, safety features may be higher on the list than a millennial seeking their first car. The goal is to determine the situation of each consumer.

Mention The Extras – Regardless of the final sale price, many consumers are conditioned to purchase extras that they feel about strongly. An earnest pitch after recognizing which features would fit their lifestyle can convince a buyer to spend for the “extras.”

Follow Up – Be sure to have a robust customer relationship system that can facilitate a chance to stay in touch with the customer and notify them of any new features or offers after the purchase. This method is an excellent way to keep them informed and coming back.  

Today’s consumers live in a world of options and opportunities for customizations. The automotive industry is a prime example of this. Colors, interiors, seating, and sound systems were standard fair feature decisions over a decade ago. Now, technological increases and safety worries have created an added layer of decisions for the consumer who is in the car buying process. By paying attention to each person’s life situation, walking through the options, and adequately following up, dealers can guide buyers to the features they need.