In order to separate itself from other luxury manufacturers, Cadillac is attempting to reinvigorate car shopping by turning it into a virtual experience.
Recently, reps from Cadillac Canada, including managing director Hoss Hassani, invited a small group of media to a private home in Toronto’s Rosedale neighbourhood for a demonstration of what’s known as Cadillac LIVE.
Cadillac LIVE, a project that was in development for about two years, is an online interactive digital showroom where shoppers can interact with live agents in one-to-one interactions and have their car-buying questions answered while the agent provides a walkaround of their Cadillac of choice. The agents wear Bluetooth headsets for two-way audio and carry an Osmo Mobile gimbal mounted to an iPhone X for one-way video, which means users needn’t worry about dressing up for their appointments.
The live agents work out of a 10,000-square foot studio at an undisclosed location in Toronto that houses 10 samples from Cadillac’s 2019 lineup, including the full-size Escalade SUV and the all-new compact XT4 crossover.
Interested parties can book appointments with live agents by visiting Cadillac.ca – it’s currently being promoted on the main landing page – on any Internet-enabled device (smartphone, laptop, etc.) without having to download and install an app. Several options are available: start a new session, view a previously recorded session or book a live one for a later time and / or date.
At launch, Cadillac LIVE is available from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. ET Sunday through Thursday with eight agents but it can scale up to 22 agents if demand increases. Agents are not authorized to sell cars or provide pricing quotes, but they can provide a vehicle’s MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price). Post-session, participants can contact a Cadillac dealer for a test drive.
The service is available in English and French nationwide in Canada only for now, but Cadillac indicated it could, if successful, be tailored for other world markets. It’s being soft-launched now but online promotion (YouTube pre-roll ads, banners, etc.) will ramp up in the coming weeks and months.
So that’s the what. As for the why, Cadillac LIVE is designed to capitalize on the brand interest, remove purchase barriers and save time, with the latter being an especially important consideration for many luxury consumers. Being the first to offer such a service in North America is also a good differentiator that should benefit Cadillac.
In its briefing materials Cadillac cites research from Google that suggests twice as many new car buyers begin researching online as opposed to visiting a dealership. The research also indicates that 55 percent of online shoppers abandon their purchases if they can’t get their questions answered quickly, and 74 percent are likely to switch brands if the buying process becomes too difficult.
Given this, and the highly competitive nature of the luxury segment in general, automakers are wise to find innovative ways to maintain shoppers’ interest. Offering a more personalized experience seems like a logical step for any luxury marque. Cadillac LIVE’s personalized approach is aimed at keeping interested parties in the Cadillac ecosystem long enough to turn them into good leads that can be funneled to its dealers. Not surprisingly, the dealer network is quite supportive of Cadillac LIVE given the refined leads the service is likely to generate.
“This is adding a dimension of experience in a very real way for Cadillac and for the customer. In an industry where we’re constantly shouting at customers with what they think they want, this is the first real, genuine time where the conversation is led by what the customer wants, not by what we want. Not by what we infer based on their Facebook user activity or Google profiles,” Hassani told Wheels.ca in an interview.
“This is a very genuine, authentic, real conversation between two human beings who are making a connection, and this is ultimately delivering an experience. Every luxury person wants to talk about the experience, the experience – millennials want experiences. This is very practically and honestly an experience, a no-charge service for customers to solve a problem that all of us can relate to, whether we have four kids or are single and are spending a lot of time on dating apps. This is a real solution to something that is plaguing people today which is why they’re flocking to anybody in any category that can save some time in their lives.”
And the fact that it’s an innovation has been designed, developed and implemented here, well, that’s just another feather in the cap for Cadillac Canada and the wider Canadian automotive industry.