This weekend is going to be a big one for autos. In any case, automakers have been pushing sales forward not too differently from how other companies are pulling the holiday selling into the earlier months. That makes Black Friday and the weekend as important for cars as for toys.
Now that consumers are doing their auto research and shopping online, it’s also easy to gauge what might happen in stores over the next few days. Ford is optimistic, especially about trucks. The company says it has been a big selling season for its F-150 pickup trucks. And if last year, when online leads increased 17% on “Black Friday” with a 22% jump for F-150, metal should move this weekend.
Ford, which started doing holiday digital promotions last week, also said its digital media commitment during the holiday has doubled to 50% of total since 2011 with vehicle sales from online sales leads now accounting for nearly one-quarter of all retail sales.
Dave Winslow, chief digital strategist at dealership digital marketing, CRM and advertising technology firm Dealer.com, says consumers are definitely looking. "There's a major increase in dealer traffic through this month," he says, adding that as of yesterday the firm has seen a 25% year-over-year increase in activity. "And even today there is a huge spike in traffic. It's a cause of concern in a good way. Part of it is lots of manufacturers pushing dealers to get digital ads out with inventories up a bit heading into end of year."
Winslow tells Marketing Daily that in years past there were not a lot of promotions specific to Black Friday but now OEMs are thinking a lot more from the retailer perspective. "It's not just year-end promotions."
According to Ford’s dealer digital-sales network FordDirect, the F-150, Ford Fusion and Ford Escape are the top three lead generators on Ford.com. A spokesperson says the automaker expects its "super segment" vehicles – cars and crossovers – to be of particularly interest, which is why they are a focus of a lot of these promotions.
Ron Merbler, digital manager, Ford enterprise digital solutions, said, in a statement, that a lot of traffic to Ford is coming from mobile devices. “Accessing content via mobile screens is key to how Americans buy vehicles now, and the Thanksgiving shopping weekend provides an opportunity for us to engage them while they’re already shopping." On DealerConnection, Ford’s dealer sites, 36% of traffic comes from a mobile device (tablet or cell phone).