Renault UK marketing director Phil York discusses the challenges and opportunities around tying together online and offline marketing
Tying together the offline and online customer journey and understanding differing behaviours across channels and devices is core to Renault Group’s success, according to marketing director Phil York. The group has a raft of new cars in the pipeline for 2013 including the fourth generation of Clio, its first breed of crossovers the Renault Captur, and the electric model Renault Zoe. It is also launching its Dacia “smart buy” brand, designed to make new cars affordable to a whole new category of used car owners. Launching new models in an increasingly competitive market is not without its challenges, and factoring in what role digital should play within the rest of the media mix is paramount, according to York. “The challenge for all these launches is to put our new cars in front of new customers. We know that buyers are doing more research online and visiting car showrooms less and less – so ensuring we respond to this is key,” he says. Over the past five years the number of visits to show rooms has dropped significantly as a result of people researching more online. Focus will therefore be on ensuring it has the right content for its web and mobile experiences so customers are engaged with the brand and their expectations are met, says York. This will include building engagement around its multiplatform TV channel Renault TV, created by Publicis Entertainment, launched last year across multiple channels and devices including iOS and Android platforms. A quarter of Renault UK’s traffic now comes via mobile devices, and there has been a significant shift within that towards tablets – a 400 per cent increase in the second half of 2012 – bolstered by the launch of more affordable devices including Google’s Nexus 7 and the iPad Mini. The car group is steadily increasing its investment in digital channels, with it currently accounting for around 25 per cent of the overall marketing mix. However, with budgets being squeezed the need to maximise efficiency becomes more urgent, and therefore so does the ability to test and track activity and better target its marketing, according to York. “With so many model launches, the key indicators for us are awareness generation and working with our dealer network to maximise sales lead volumes. For new car launches, TV and outdoor are still vital to build brand awareness quickly, but online is king when it comes to lead generation. “For Dacia, it’s all about breaking the rules – so a more direct challenger approach will create stand-out … and the prices speak for themselves, so PR will be a key tool here. In both cases, I’d like to see some examples of innovative cut-through activity – that’s very much part of the Renault way,” he says. Viral marketing is a "tough area to crack" but can help generate buzz and awareness around Renault product launches, according to York. The challenge is not only to find the idea that can ensure a video goes viral, but to ensure its subsequent distribution strategy is keenly defined or it can be a waste of investment, he adds. York expects to see the market lean heavily towards personalisation in the coming year. “At a macro level, we’ve seen the market polarising between premium and budget brands – as well as a trend towards ever greater individuality and personalisation. New car buyers who are investing a large sum of money in a new car want it more than ever to reflect their own style and personality. Unsurprisingly, there’s also a growing consumer focus on running costs too. “So the response is for more striking designs, growth of crossovers, more and more personalisation options as well as a growth in ‘all-inclusive’ ownership packages, such as Renault’s 4+ package, launched in 2012. “In a time of economic uncertainty, heritage is important too, as customers want to invest in brands they can trust. That’s a theme we continue to see reflected in communications,” he says. Discussing his role as a judge at this year’s The Drum Marketing Awards, York says he expects to see a good level of innovation. “It’s fascinating to see brands challenging convention and trying new things. When it works, it’s brilliant. When it doesn’t, the learnings are some of the most valuable you can have,” he says. Deadline to enter The Drum Marketing Awards is 25 January and will include categories such as Integrated Strategy, Brand of the Year, Marketing Services Company of the Year, PR Strategy of the Year, Global Brand Strategy of the Year to name a few.