10 U.S. Automotive Industry Trends to Know in 2024

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10 U.S. Automotive Industry Trends to Know in 2024

The recent pandemic threw a huge spanner in the works of the U.S. automotive industry. 2020 was one of the worst years on record for car sales as lockdowns kept people at home and supply chain disruption decimated dealership inventory. But today, automotive industry trends are, for the most part, on a more positive track. 

Understanding current trends with auto buyers is critical for manufacturers and dealers to develop winning automotive marketing strategies. With that in mind, we’ve identified 10 major automotive industry trends that are likely to have a significant impact on the marketing campaigns automakers develop and deploy in 2024.

Rising Trends in the Automotive Industry

The 10 trends we outline in this post suggest that the automotive industry is grappling with change on several fronts and trying to simultaneously manage multiple objectives, including

  • Recovering from years of disruption
  • Adapting to consumers’ changing needs and preferences
  • Forging connections with new generations of car buyers
  • Positioning for future growth and innovation
  • Developing more sustainable products

Let’s dive into the list of top trends by discussing how lingering inventory issues for dealerships may finally be easing this year, and what that may mean for auto sales.

Trend #1: A Return to Normal? (Almost.)

Automotive marketing strategies in 2024 are already beginning to reflect a return to normalcy in auto purchasing. Inventory should soon reach pre-pandemic levels for many dealerships. That will allow them to provide immediate or prompt delivery to buyers rather than asking them to wait weeks or months to receive their vehicles.

Prices rose with limited inventory but should stabilise and ease as more cars reach dealership forecourts. Car sales are projected to grow as a result, but won’t do so dramatically, despite solid demand. That’s because interest rates are at 23-year highs, creating credit issues for many buyers. However, this is an issue that manufacturers and dealers can overcome in many cases by offering compelling perks and discounts. 

Trend #2: The Slow But Steady Rise of EVs

One of the most significant auto market trends that has emerged in recent years is the focus on electric vehicles (EVs). Eco-friendly initiatives are a draw for future-forward manufacturers that no longer want to be associated with producing “gas guzzlers” (i.e., cars with poor fuel economy ratings) and aim to be at the forefront of change for their industry.

All-electric manufacturer Tesla has witnessed a meteoric rise to dominate the EV space and the all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 6 was named car of the Year in 2023. However, despite generous federal buyer incentives for “Made in America” EV purchases, EV sales in the United States haven’t taken off as many predicted. Perhaps that’s why Tesla CEO Elon Musk insists that Tesla isn’t a car company?

EV sales worldwide suggest a promising future is emerging for EVs, though. EVs represent one in every five cars sold globally, and demand is projected to surge over the next decade. However, in the U.S., only one in nine cars sold is an EV. But more widespread availability of public charging stations, longer-lasting batteries, and better pricing could help to fuel the growth of EV sales in the U.S. and elsewhere over time.

Trend #3: Hybrid Is Having a Moment 

Hybrid vehicles are a logical step toward full electric — and for many consumers, it’s a more comfortable shift to make toward eco-friendly car-buying. The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle market is looking robust: It’s anticipated to be valued at nearly $36 billion this year.

The world’s largest automaker, Toyota, is one company that has doubled down on producing gas-electric and plug-in hybrids rather than diving headlong into EV manufacturing. So far, its strategy is working. Toyota doubled its profits in the last nine months of 2023 and sales rose 20% in the first two months of this year largely on the back of hybrid sales. Toyota is also responding to consumers’ desire for choice by offering a broad range of hybrids from the Prius saloon to the Tundra truck.

Trend #4: Marketing Budgets Poised to Expand

Automotive marketing budgets have been tight lately, but the purse strings may loosen soon. Auto advertising trends suggest spending by car manufacturers and dealerships on digital ads will increase 11% in 2024.

Regardless of resources, automotive marketing teams remain under pressure to justify their budgets. This makes tracking individual campaigns and the overall customer journey crucial. Without accurate attribution, how can marketing hope to defend their spend?

According to research on automotive market trends, while most car sales today start online, more than 95% of purchases still happen at the dealership. Many consumers still prefer to call a dealership to get information on availability and pricing or arrange a test drive. Capturing attributable data from those calls can be a huge lift for marketing teams trying to prove return on advertising spend (ROAS) and also optimise their marketing spend.

Call tracking and conversation intelligence software can bridge the information gap between customers’ online and offline journeys to create a complete and reliable picture of when, where, and why conversions take place. Invoca’s platform provides complete visibility into automotive marketing campaigns and creates a valuable database that marketers can use to optimise and defend their budgets.

Trend #5: Digital Strategies Remain a Must

One automotive industry trend that deepened during the pandemic and continues today is consumers’ increased dependence on online research to shape their buying strategies. Automotive statistics suggest that 95% of consumers are bypassing visits to traditional dealerships in favor of conducting at least their initial research online.

This is one key reason an effective automotive digital marketing strategy is so essential for reaching today’s consumers. Automotive industry trends indicate that new generations of car buyers, particularly Generation Z (considered to be the first generation of “digital natives”), make their purchasing decisions online or via a mobile phone. Hence the rise of virtual showrooms.

The key to reaching these digital buyers is having the right data. (Carmakers like Volvo know the power of data when it comes to driving the right digital strategy.) The more meaningful data you can compile, the more informed your automotive marketing strategy can be.

Using call tracking and conversation intelligence software can maximise your digital data stack by tracking, recording, and digitising phone calls so that data points can be easily extracted from them. Invoca’s platform uses artificial intelligence (AI)-powered software to sift through data from every call into, or from, your marketing department or contact centre to supplement online data and provide a complete picture for your digital strategy. 

Trend #6: Personalisation Is a Priority

Another way that data from online and offline interactions can move your automotive marketing strategy forward is by helping you to personalise car dealership marketing ideas, ads, sales pitches, and other customer contact. Personalisation is a key automotive industry trend; it’s a way to build strong relationships with target audiences and develop a smooth omnichannel customer experience.

Luxury brand Aston Martin might be the ultimate example of supercharging personalisation in their marketing strategy. The British car manufacturer’s Q by Aston Martin is a bespoke customisation service aimed at high-net-worth buyers. The brand has reinforced this personalised message to customers by opening a Q design centre in New York City. In keeping with the brand’s exclusive image, the design centre is open by appointment only.

Your automotive business can accomplish personalisation in many ways. One strategy is to use intelligent call routing technology like Invoca to create more seamless and personalised customer experiences through your contact centre. Invoca’s conversation intelligence platform with PreSense can also alert the agent to who is calling and why they are calling, providing an opportunity to personalise conversations from the outset.

Trend #7: The In-Car Experience Is Increasingly Connected

Cloud computing, mobile technology, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have transformed cars from siloed transport machines into capsules of connectivity and interactivity. Sensors are already used to activate parking assist in new car models and to enhance safety by alerting drivers if they are too close to the car they are following. More flexible data-driven systems are likely to be available soon.

Connectivity can either be embedded in the car via computer chip technology or tethered by using interactive apps on a driver’s smartphone. This connectivity allows cars to do more than pick up the latest Taylor Swift album drop from your Apple Music app. They can now transmit data in real time to other vehicles to promote safety or provide traffic reports and to the cloud for real-time engine diagnostics.

Trend #8: Influencers Are Becoming Even More … Influential

Another automotive market trend to watch in 2024 is the growing use of influencers for engaging target audiences. According to Digiday+Research, influencer marketing has become more widespread in marketing budgets. About 76% of marketing agency pros indicate that their clients spend at least a small portion of their budgets on influencer relationships.

Cars.com uses influencer networks to syndicate its editorial content and get in front of its target audience through new and different channels. As this list of 10 top automotive influencers shows, influencers do have plenty of reach. Some are so sought-after that they work through influencer marketing agencies

Trend #9: Wooing Gen Z Is an Imperative

Automotive marketers must always keep one eye on the future.  Buying patterns change with each generation. The last crop of baby boomers is in their 60s and maybe buying their last car. So, it’s time to think more about appealing to younger generations of car buyers — and, in particular, earning business from Gen Z consumers.

Gen Z has the most buying power but may be the trickiest consumers to pin down. Though they grew up as digital natives and like to do their research online, they often prefer to do their buying in person. They also want to feel a connection to the brands they buy.

South Korea’s Hyundai took a three-pronged marketing approach to snaring Gen Z eyeballs based on the premise of meeting them where they are. This involved investment in three of Gen Z’s favorite pastimes — movies, gaming, and K-Pop culture. Hyundai used its collaboration with Sony Pictures to project a futuristic brand image in the animated film “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.” The car manufacturer also partnered with gaming platform Roblox and the metaverse platform ZEPETO to showcase its brand and developed a brand video under the moniker “New Meets Old.”

Trend #10: AI Emerging as a Go-To Tool for Marketers

Our last trend in focus for 2024 is technological: Look for more marketers in the automotive industry, and beyond, to integrate AI into their marketing tech stack to transform how they work on many fronts.

Generative AI tools, for example, can help marketing teams analyse huge digital data dumps quickly and efficiently. AI can also convert offline data such as phone calls into insights that help demonstrate the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and can lead to more sales. Invoca’s AI, for instance, can analyse phone conversations to determine if a caller is a lead for sales, what website activity drove them to all, what specific vehicle they’re calling about, and more.

The use of AI-driven predictive analytics can also help automotive marketers to sort and assess data at tremendous speed and gain insights about consumer needs and expectations to help inform future campaigns. Other AI tools such as chatbots can provide hyper-personalised experiences for customers, supplementing “the human touch” in interactions.

How Automakers Create Better Experiences and Drive More Revenue with Invoca

If you want to stay on top of the most compelling auto market trends, you need real insight into what your customers want and need. You must understand them at a deeper level. Invoca can unearth valuable data from the thousands of everyday phone conversations your sales and contact centre teams have with customers or prospects and then turn that data into actionable intelligence that can shape and guide your marketing outreach.

Using Invoca, automotive marketers can create seamless omnichannel journeys for customers that build loyalty and drive conversions. You’ll have insight into the complete customer journey, both online and offline. This means you can spend smarter, target more effectively, and allocate more efficiently. And, over time, this will drive more qualified leads into the sales funnel, which means more cars sold, and greater revenue.

Additional Reading

Want more insight on how to increase automotive marketing campaign effectiveness? Check out the following posts from Invoca:

When you’re ready, book a demo with us. We’ll show you how we can help you use data from phone calls to create more engaging customer experiences and drive higher revenue for your automotive business.

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