Automotive Advertising During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Did someone say, “Covid changed automotive advertising?”
The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on various industries, including the automotive sector. With social distancing measures in place, traditional automotive advertising faced significant challenges. However, the industry quickly adapted, and this blog explores the changes in automotive advertising in the United States since the pandemic.

One of the most notable changes in automotive advertising during the pandemic was the accelerated shift to digital platforms. With people spending more time online, automakers and dealerships redirected their advertising budgets towards digital marketing strategies. They leveraged social media platforms, search engine marketing, and display advertising to reach their target audience effectively. Online platforms offered the advantage of precise targeting, allowing advertisers to reach potential customers based on demographics, interests, and browsing behavior.

In-person dealership visits and test drives were limited due to lockdowns and social distancing protocols. As a result, automakers and some dealerships turned to virtual showrooms and test drives to maintain customer engagement. Through immersive virtual experiences, potential buyers could explore vehicle features, interiors, and even take simulated test drives. These virtual tools not only allowed customers to experience the vehicles but also facilitated interactive consultations with sales representatives, enhancing the personalized shopping experience.

To adapt to the changing consumer behavior during the pandemic, automotive advertisers emphasized contactless purchasing options. Online buying platforms were expanded, enabling customers to browse inventory, configure vehicles, and complete transactions entirely online. Many dealerships offered home delivery services and flexible financing options, providing customers with a hassle-free purchasing process while prioritizing their health and safety.

In response to the pandemic, automotive advertisers adjusted their messaging and tone. Many brands focused on empathy and community, acknowledging the challenges people faced during these uncertain times. Advertisements highlighted the safety features of vehicles, reassuring customers about the protection they could provide. Additionally, campaigns aimed at promoting local travel and outdoor adventures gained popularity as people sought safe alternatives for leisure activities. This shift in messaging allowed automotive advertisers to resonate with consumers’ changing needs and concerns.
The COVID-19 pandemic transformed automotive advertising in the United States. The industry swiftly adapted to the challenges, embracing digital platforms, virtual experiences, and contactless purchasing options. By adjusting their messaging and tone, automotive advertisers successfully connected with consumers during these unprecedented times, setting a new precedent for the future of automotive advertising.

As inventory levels start to return to pre-covid numbers, shoppers are returning to dealerships. For domestic and import vehicles, final sales are done in-store. However, the shopping process was transformed with a greater number of customers starting their new car purchase process online.