In the Tinderised world in which we all live, can choosing a car become a matchmaking experience?
According to US motor vehicle sales website Cars.com, Americans love their wheels… “but they would rather go to the Department of Motor Vehicles, clean toilets, have an extended phone conversation with their mother-in-law and go to jury duty than shop for one,” according to a survey they undertook last month.
Cars.com wants to change that perception by launching the industry’s first “online matchmaking experience” powered by machine learning, which makes car shopping more personalised – and fun.
Cars.com’s new Matchmaking Experience offers a simpler way for people to find their perfect car in an increasingly complex market by helping them navigate the more than 40 automotive brands, 460 models currently on the market and tens of thousands of trim options that too often make choosing a car overwhelming. The site uses a proprietary machine-learning algorithm to make personalised car recommendations based on shoppers’ lifestyle preferences.
Here’s how it works: Users share their feedback on up to 15 different lifestyle preferences, then Cars.com delivers up to 20 recommended matches based on user preferences and sentiment analysis. In the style of Tinder, users “like” or “don’t like” the recommendations offered and the site then delivers “perfect vehicle matches” nearest to the user’s location.
“We’re treating people like human beings with distinct emotional nuances, not just site users, as we build a more relevant, personalised car-shopping experience,” said Tony Zolla, Cars.com chief product officer. “Early-stage car shoppers don’t know what they’re looking for. In fact, an overwhelming majority are undecided on make and model, yet nearly all online car search experiences force people to select a make or model as the first step in their journey.
“Our new site intelligence is built from our comprehensive amount of vehicle data combined with user preferences and sentiment analysis to deliver a Matchmaking Experience that gives people a better way to shop for cars.”
A pilot of Matchmaking Experience has resulted in a 752 per cent increase in profile creation on the site, an 87 per cent increase in return visitors, a 225 per cent increase in email leads and double the number of page views per visitor versus the traditional search experience.
The new concept is being marketed in a branding campaign themed “We Met on Cars.com” which inspires shoppers to fall in love with finding their perfect car and brings to life the new Matchmaking Experience. The campaign’s core creative, entitled “How We Met,” portrays relatable scenarios where people with varying interests and passions find their perfect vehicle match.
“Our new omni-channel campaign tells the story of how Cars.com creates chemistry that endures long after shoppers find the car of their dreams,” said Brooke Skinner Ricketts, Cars.com’s chief marketing officer. “We’re rekindling the emotional connection that sometimes gets lost between the dream and the drive, and we’re injecting fun back into car shopping.”
The campaign highlights how everyone has the ability to be swept off their feet by a car: A cowgirl falls in love with a pickup truck’s horsepower, a labradoodle owner connects with a hybrid, and sparks fly between a crew team and an SUV with a third row.
Skinner Ricketts added that the experience and campaign will set apart Cars.com in the commoditised auto marketplace category.
“The Matchmaking Experience and new campaign differentiates our brand in a sea of sameness,” she said. “Cars.com is not brokering transactions – we’re creating relationships between people and dealers and people and cars.”
The new campaign debuted on August 6, with 30-second, 15-second and 6-second multi-channel creatives across network TV, digital, program integrations and social, as well as a range of digital and online video executions. Custom content partnerships, with companies like Tinder, further solidify the connection between matchmaking and car shopping.