The automotive industry has recently bounced back from the credit crunch and has so far experienced a historic five consecutive years of increase in sales. However, despite these positive aspects, automotive equipment manufacturers still face many setbacks because of disruptions and changes to the industry. This is certainly not the time to sit down and breathe a sigh of relief. Automotive marketers and automakers should push the foot forward on the gas and create new and innovative ways to engage consumers, which ultimately lead to stronger relationships and more profits.

Shifts in the automotive industry are set to reshape it in the upcoming years. A change in consumer digital behavior coupled with the merging of industry players will drive this shift pattern, and create a different auto shopping environment which will result in even playing fields for car companies.

The following are trends for automotive marketers to embrace in 2015:

Targeting Opportunities

Different digital landscapes have created many desirable audiences for the automotive industry, and targeting them has increasingly become difficult. Based on a research study conducted by Google, 63 percent of auto shoppers started off with a brand in mind, but only 20 percent stuck to their initial choice. This goes to mean that 43 percent of auto shoppers divert, while 37 percent are acquired.

By creating effective communication programs with messages targeting each audience segment, car organizations will be able to engage with consumers using the ideal message within the right channel, which will lead to stronger relationships and increased sales.

The Influence of Women

Women constitute approximately 51 percent of car purchases in the U.S. Extending the influence they have over their families, women influence 85 percent of car purchases, and with that making them the most important demographic for the automotive industry. On average, in the U.S. women have more licenses than men, and they spend more time in cars than men. Despite these statistics, women still report negative consumer experiences when purchasing a car.

Auto companies continue focusing their communications on men, fearing that a shift in focus will isolate the male demographic. Auto companies need to devise new strategies that match both genders despite their age, income, interests, and education. Doing this will be a total game-changer.

Marketing to Millennials

Although difficult, millennials form an important group for automotive marketers. In addition, they have come of age with the digital world with digital expectations that provide numerous opportunities to engage with them. However, they are not highly interested in car ownership and their engagement with automotive equipment manufacturers is at an all-time low. The reason for this is that more young Americans are moving to urban areas where owning a car seems impractical. Between 2007 and 2011 there was a 30 percent drop in millennials purchasing cars, and between 2001 and 2009, the number of miles driven per vehicle in the 16-34 age range dropped by 23 percent.

This brings to question —

* If fewer people own cars, then how are they moving around?
* Are urban transport systems a popular choice for many?

Today marketers are not only tasked with marketing their brands to millennials as well as promote the benefits of car ownership to them.