Millennials and Digital Top the Agenda at Canadian Dealer Forum

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DrivingSales conference in Calgary attracts experts from across North America.

Digital best practice and marketing to millennial consumers were both hot topics at the recent Canadian Dealer Forum. Held for the third time in Calgary, at the downtown Westin hotel, the event brought together up to 100 dealers, technology vendors, marketing professionals and other industry specialists for two days of presentations, workshops, panel discussions and informal networking.

“Everyone always gets something from the Forum, whether it’s selling more cars or changing how we keep stats,” explained conference delegate Jeremy Hensel, BDC manager from Honda West in Calgary, which brought a number of managers to the event.

“It’s a valuable opportunity to see what’s trending in the marketplace,” added fellow Forum delegate Denis Ducharme, president of the Motor Dealers’ Association of Alberta. “We’re also working with DrivingSales to bring speakers into our Western Canadian Dealer Summit, which will be held in Las Vegas in November.”

Millenial Opportunities

All the speakers were selected specifically for the event by a panel of dealers. Keynote speaker Andrew Au from the Intercept Group, a marketing agency that specializes in reaching a millennial audience, provided insight into engaging with millennials, who at 9.3 million in number are Canada’s largest group of consumers.

Au noted that, with millennials ranging in age range from 18-38 years, dealers need to be specific in whom they are targeting with new initiatives and that traditional goals such as investing money, buying a car or getting married remain important.

“However, for millennials, success is no longer defined by stability or wealth,” he said. “It’s about entertainment, travel and enjoying experiences. You have to be in the business of selling adventure, unique travel opportunities and experiences. That affects the copy we produce, the images we show.”

Mixed Reality

With video established as the number one medium in digital marketing and Facebook as the number one channel, even among millennials, Au highlighted how an emerging technology, mixed reality, could soon transform the experience for customers visiting a dealership. This fusion of virtual reality and augmented reality overlays HD holograms onto a physical environment.

In a dealership, mixed reality could mean a head-mounted display in which holograms showcase the customer the different features of the car, on top of the physical car. “Within five years, I believe it will be one of the most effective technologies to leverage in the retail environment,” said Au.

Breakout Sessions

The role of the physical dealership in the age of digital retailing and change management strategies were among the subjects explored by breakout sessions. In another session, Ian Cruickshank of Speed Shift Media, whose inventory display advertising technology is used by clients including Autotrader.com and Kia Canada, detailed a new approach to marketing certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles. He stressed the importance of switching away from ads that simply raise awareness of a CPO programme, to ones that highlight specific inventory and link directly to vehicle detail pages (VDPs).

Dealers themselves were very much part of the schedule, too, with two panels of representatives from prominent Alberta dealers taking questions in afternoon sessions. Their insights prompted further discussion from delegates keen to share knowledge and best practice.

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