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Auto industry’s competitor of the future revealed

Google, Netflix, Airbnb, Amazon, Uber Eats and Mr D Food are the South African motor industry’s new competition, says Wesbank CEO



Competition for the motor industry now comes from outside the industry, says Ghana Msibi, CEO of WesBank Motor Division.

“Google, Netflix, Airbnb, Amazon, Uber Eats and Mr D Food are the motor industry’s new competition,” he said at the 2019 NAAMSA Automotive Conference held at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit last week. Msibi said, while he was speaking figuratively, the motor industry could learn a lot from the way other brands were disrupting the industries in which they operated.

“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 said 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.

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

“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 mindset solves for the industry, but a customer mindset solves for the customer.”

For today’s customer it was no longer about proximity but rather about the best deal, he said 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.

“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.”