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Social media irrelevant in the automotive industry

A recent survey conducted by Pierre Audoin Consultants among decision-makers in companies in the German automotive industry has shown that the new communication channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are not of central importance to the acquisition of new customers for a large proportion of respondents.
Stefanie Naujoks, PAC
4 October 2013
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

According to the survey, social media channels only play an important role for around one-third of respondents.

This result surprised me, because I would have expected the automotive industry to be among the pioneers in the use of new media.

However, a closer look reveals a differentiated picture, which can be viewed from two angles:

First, the importance of social media varies depending on which industry you look at within the automotive industry: car manufacturers, suppliers, or dealers.

According to the survey, the use of Facebook, Twitter and the like plays a greater role among vehicle manufacturers than among automotive suppliers, for example.

And among retailers, the use of social media already plays a major role for more than two-thirds of respondents. Again, these results are not surprising.

However, we can also take a more differentiated look at the results for suppliers.

In the case of automotive suppliers, for example, a distinction must be made between whether the main customers are mainly OEMs (for example, component manufacturers) or accessory suppliers who also serve the end customer market directly (for example, tire, roof box or windshield wiper manufacturers).

For the latter, I assume that the new communication possibilities via social media will play a greater role than for the component suppliers, who generally know their customers, i.e. the OEMs, all by name.

Another approach to explaining why Facebook, Twitter and the like are not of central importance to many respondents is the question itself.

The companies were asked whether the new media are of central importance in their company. The result is that the new media are not yet of central importance for the majority.

This is surprising in that the majority of manufacturers, suppliers and retailers naturally operate and maintain various Facebook fan pages or Twitter accounts.

The result suggests that while individual isolated solutions such as Facebook fan pages exist, only a few companies already have holistic social media concepts and strategies in place.

Holistic concepts include the provision of communication channels, rating systems, and platforms for customer opinions, as well as social media monitoring, integration with customer portals or self-service sites, and the integration of social media as a contact center channel.

Holistic strategies would also include, for example, strategies on how to forward the information obtained and evaluated by social media platforms directly to the right places in the company (for example, to product development).

In summary, social media is used by companies, but not yet embedded in a holistic corporate strategy.


So social media is by no means irrelevant in the automotive industry, but it has different meanings for different subsectors.

When it comes to implementing holistic strategies, many companies are still in the early stages.

Stefanie Naujoks is an analyst for Project Services & Manufacturing Markets at PAC Germany. She is the author of numerous studies and analyses on the manufacturing industry and the market for maintenance and support services in Germany.


Stefanie Naujoks, PAC

Stefanie Naujoks is Senior Analyst (Manufacturing Markets) at Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC)

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