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PwC Study Finds Automakers Taking Design Ideas From Social Media

DETROIT -- They're calling it "co-creation" -- automakers using the information gathered from customer engagement through social media to design their next generation of products.

And a new study released Wednesday by PricewaterhouseCoopers argues that technology has put co-creation in the fast lane and automotive companies that leverage social media and data to engage stakeholders will likely have a competitive advantage.

Companies using collaborative methods can provide the opportunity to connect with customers, dealers, employees and suppliers. The companies that successfully tap the feedback from these groups can enhance product design, create in-depth customer experiences and increase the effectiveness of their corporate social responsibility programs.

"From in-vehicle telematics to social media outlets, auto companies have a clear competitive advantage when they use the data gathered to strengthen a relationship with the customer," said Dietmar Ostermann, PwC's global automotive advisory leader. "Co-creation methods reach far beyond the customer experience. They provide fundamental opportunities for automakers to consider the 'discussion' of all stakeholders, including suppliers, to improve products and decrease the cost associated with harming the brand perception."

Previously, OEMs relied on customer data surveys and focus groups for product design and campaign launches. However, OEMs are now implementing new co-creation strategies to engage customers in interactive, ongoing dialogue through social media to increase the efficiency of product design and bring a brand to life before it hits the market.

Historically, dealers have had challenges retaining customers who require service and repair work after the vehicle warranty period. However, outstanding customer service translates to profitability for the dealer and OEM. Through co-creation methods, there are opportunities to build connectivity with dealers and after-sales providers. For example, when tire pressure is low, or an oil change is needed, the car would not only alert the driver, but also the dealer. The dealer can then reach out to the customer.

In addition, co-creation methods are being used internally to build relationships within the organization. Companies are implementing interactive engagement platforms to collaborate and receive feedback from their employees. Companies are not only asking for feedback, but implementing their ideas, which in turn, contributes to increased employee morale and fosters an innovative culture throughout the organization.

"Automakers need to embrace and invest in an open and collaborative marketplace with stakeholders and customers," continued Ostermann. "Today, auto companies utilizing the tools and resources available to co-create will be well-positioned to lead the competition."

Looking ahead, PwC believes co-creation methods will likely increase at a faster pace over the next five years. Co-creation is already starting to emerge as a mainstream method of collaboration and idea generation in the auto industry. Co-creation is ultimately about increasing value through innovative dialogue and partnerships, which can significantly impact relationships across the entire automotive value chain and improve profitability.

For more information on PwC co-creation capabilities and to download PwC's publication Looking ahead: Driving co-creating in the auto industry, visit:

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