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'Google, Netflix, Mr D Food are the motor industry’s new competition' - major disruptors affecting the SA car industry

2019-08-26 12:59

Compiled by Sergio Davids

Traffic lights. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

"Google, Netflix, Airbnb, Amazon, Uber Eats and Mr D Food are the motor industry’s new competition," says Ghana Msibi, CEO of WesBank Motor Division.

Speaking at the 2019 NAAMSA Automotive Conference held at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit on 22 August, Msibi said, albeit figuratively, that competition was now from outside the motor industry, and that the motor industry could learn a lot from the way other brands were disrupting the industries in which they operated.

'There will always be OEMs and dealers'

Msib said: "There will always be original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and automotive dealers, that won’t change. However, the way in which we as an industry do business must change in order to meet the needs of tomorrow’s customers, who are increasingly technologically savvy." 

More than 800 industry stakeholders attended this years’ conference which included representatives from OEMs, finance houses, industry bodies, automotive dealers and value added service providers, as well as 41 South African OEM CEOs. According to Msibi, the current dealership model requires a seismic shift in the way it engages with consumers, and the industry needs to work together to find better ways of doing this. He reiterated that it isn’t a science and that the topic was broad.

He stated that there was a heightened demand from customers at a personal level, and that these customers often measured their motor industry experiences based on their experiences with other industries, alluding to the fact that the likes of Google, Netflix, Airbnb, Amazon, Uber Eats and Mr D Food were the new benchmark.

Msibi said: "We should follow emerging trends and figure out how best to deal with them. We must understand what our real challenges are and then collaborate to find solutions that are relevant for our customers. We must also realise that South Africa is a unique market with its own challenges." 

He also noted that dealers were an extension of the brand experience and that today’s customers didn’t relate well to the ‘hard sell’ approach. 

Msibi said: "The value of the dealer will be diluted if the customer experience is poor. It is therefore imperative that we understand the customers’ needs, and provide them with a service that meets these needs. A product mind set solves for the industry, but a customer mind set solves for the customer." 

He also noted that for today’s customer it was no longer about proximity but rather about the best deal, and encouraged the industry to offer sound advice, build trust, and ask how they could use technology and data to give customers a better experience and a better price.

Msibi said: "In many ways the industry is built on a legacy structure - we need to turn this on its head. We must improve the issues our customers have, together and in collaboration."  

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