The invention of the automobile still stands for virtually unlimited personal mobility. But the digital transformation is now calling established mobility concepts into question. Networked cars, car-sharing services and even alternative propulsion technologies mark a new paradigm, which is challenging the entire industry. Olaf Mußhoff, Director Automechanika Frankfurt and Dr. Ann-Katrin Klusak, Director Marketing Communications Mobility & Logistics at Messe Frankfurt, provide a sneak preview of the future trends that will be presented at the Automechanika trade fair in Frankfurt and explains the important role that this leading trade fair will have in the automotive industry’s digital transition.
1. Mr. Mußhoff, the automotive industry is one of the most innovative and advanced industries when it comes to digitalization. Which innovations and future trends await visitors at Automechanika?
Automated and to some extent virtualized processes make it possible to meet customer needs and vehicle requirements in a more efficient and customized way. The trends in the automotive industry are therefore the four core issues of connectivity, alternative drive systems, automated driving and mobility services. At the fully booked Automechanika trade fair, which is taking place in Frankfurt from September 13th to 17th, the special exhibition space “Tomorrow’s Services & Mobility” will be used to present innovations that already exist today as well as tomorrow’s paths to mobility.
The trending topic of connectivity extends from networked traffic lights to vehicles communicate to warn each other to of potential hazards. And drivers can communicate with each other too. License plates play a central role here. It is possible to provide each other with information using services like Contact2Car. A future communication case will be demonstrated at Automechanika 2016, which the drivers of two cars – a Jaguar and a Landrover – use voice control and their license plates to communicate with one another. Placed in the display of the vehicle, such services also allow for in-car advertising, for example, for the next inspection. Such a digital service is a great opportunity for the aftermarket.
Alternative drives are becoming increasingly important for the aftermarket as well. Technologies like integrated high-voltage power supplies, newest generation lithium-ion batteries or charging systems are becoming standard. Inductive charging, which can be used to charge electric cars without cables, is becoming increasingly important. In addition to more powerful batteries and extensive charging infrastructure, this convenient technology has the potential of causing a real breakthrough in electromobility. Never stand at the gas station again – inductive charging will make this a reality. Therefore, we are dedicating a separate exhibitor area to this trend technology. Bombardier, for example, will be presenting its fast charging option here.
Another future trend that the aftermarket will profit from is automated driving. Self-propelled cars will transform the world of automobiles. This will open up entirely new ways of driving. “In-car wellbeing” is the term used to describe all the innovations that help drivers leave their vehicles healthier than when they got in. Daimler’s “Air Balance Package”, for example includes cleaning, ionisation and scenting of the vehicle interior. 80 percent of all premium car drivers opt for this package. This trend is also exciting for the aftermarket, because these “wellness packages” will have to be repeatedly replenished in the vehicles.
Mobility services include all current and future technologies, which will be used in automotive shops. Augmented reality will be used to assist technicians in their work. In a future scenario, not only will repair cases detected “online” be diagnosed and vehicles called into the repair shop. Equipped with augmented-reality goggles, technicians can detect any technical defects. If needed, they can also involve an expert via remote support and print the required spare part on the 3D printer during the repair procedure. That which is still a glimpse of the future today, will be a reality and trend at the Automechanika in 2018.
2. What role does a global trade fair such as the Automechanika play in communicating upcoming revolutionary changes?
As a leading international trade fair for the automotive industry when it comes to furnishings, parts, accessories, management and services, the Automechanika in Frankfurt serves as a platform for innovations. The suppliers in particular truly drive technology in the automotive industry. They have been aligning their production cycles and product announcements with the dates of the Automechanika in Frankfurt for 45 years now.
17,000 exhibitors around the globe stand behind this trade fair brand. 15 Automechanika fairs in various locations worldwide provide a professional audience of around half a million car professionals with information on the most recent innovations. Just recently, the Automechanika won the German Brand Award in gold for innovation, consistent brand management and sustainable brand marketing. The Automechanika is the single largest meeting place for the growing multifaceted community, which deals with topics related to mobility and logistics, and in particular the radical change that is being brought on by the digital transformation.
3. Dr. Klusak, Which communication measures are being used by you, individual providers and the industry as a whole to accompany the digital transformation in the automotive industry?
Upcoming changes in the automotive industry as well as all other areas of logistics require all market participants to engage in comprehensive communication to convey the various innovations and change processes. The variety of innovations and their impact on the economy, society, and of course the consumers must be sustainably communicated to increase understanding and acceptance. We see: the associations and manufacturers are already doing excellent work in this regard.
With the Automechanika trade fair and special events such as our “Connected Mobility” conference series, we are offering the most wide-reaching platform in the world for exchange and networking in the industry. We are also actively participating in the discourse with our own content such as studies and provide for an exchange of information across multiple manufacturers with our communication channels such as our “driving news” blog.
We have been living and breathing cross-media marketing for many years now, as have many of our customers. Our offer extends from a growing number of local, multilingual websites and newsletters for exhibitors and visitors to digital advertising and films as well as our mobile game app “Automechanika racer”.
In order to liven up our website and mobilize exhibitors and visitors, we use a mixture of classical advertising media and contests, campaigns via eCards, Twitter, Facebook, Google AdWords and retargeting.
Social media is playing an increasingly important role in this regard. The most frequently used channel among our customers is Twitter at 44 percent, followed closely by online notifications (30 per cent) and blogs (8 percent). We use Facebook to provide information on all our Automechanika trade fairs around the world, show our customers the faces behind the events and imagery for set-up times and other issues. These channels also provide even closer networking of our community.
We are thus increasingly investing in Facebook and Twitter advertising. We thus not only have the possibility to specifically address target groups like automotive shop owner or car enthusiasts, but also provide them with emotionally appealing content. After all, it is a well-known fact that emotions play a big role in the automotive industry.
In addition to this, we produce viral clips, which are distributed via our social medial channels as well as videos and the corresponding campaigns. Using seeding, we reached over 200,000 people in 2014 with these measures. We are increasingly offering our promotional materials to our exhibitors in digital form, including email signatures, coupon codes to redeem tickets and much more.
Most of our exhibitors communicate and accompany their trade fair activities online, take advantage of the social networks, launch digital campaigns and are active during the fair as well via social media with the use of their own campaign hashtags. ZF organized a flashmob at the Automechanika in Frankfurt in 2014.
Schaeffler broadcasts product demonstrations and presentations via live stream from the fair. The association ZDK regularly hosts “CarCamps”, in which it provides car dealerships and automotive shops with information on the use of social media. Even the business networks XING and LinkedIn as well as related forums are gaining importance with regard to maintaining the community.
Last but not least, we support the digital networking of the industry together with all trade fair participants by way of likes, shares etc. in the social web as well as Messe Frankfurt’s the platforms including its digital exhibitor directory, the sophisticated product search or our B2B provider portal productpilot.com, which are being increasingly used by exhibitors. These tools provide those interested with the opportunity to find products and engage in business year round.
In terms of content marketing, the blog is one of our most important channels, but we also invest in traditional tools such as the print magazine “Events driving the future”. We use storytelling to provide insight into the people involved in our trade fair and our portfolio of events in our field of business.
For our conference series “Connected Mobility” on the subject of digitization, we have chosen the innovative presentation format of TED talks and bring together representatives from the automotive industry with Internet companies and start-ups. In this way, we encourage engagement, accompany current developments, and identify trends, which we thus add to the public agenda together with our partners.