Last Wednesday at Facebook’s annual developer conference in San Francisco, CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled plans to implement ‘spherical’ 360­º experience. This new breed of media will run inside standard web & mobile browsers without requiring the use of a headset. The plan, Zuckerberg says, is to eventually get this kind of “immersive, 360-degree…experience” into your Facebook News Feed.

So what does this announcement by Zuck, the quintessential visionary, tell us about today’s consumer?

Zuckerberg knows that today’s user desperately wants to be in control online. They expect an even richer and more immersive experience. They want to see everything, educate themselves, and explore at their own pace & convenience. Zuckerberg realizes that this sort of innovation is what will separate him from other social media platforms.

So how does this relate to merchandising? As Zuck puts it:

“If you look back at Facebook 5 years ago, most of the content that people shared was text; status updates and photos. Now today, it’s photos. If you fast-forward 5 years, it’s going to be video. And if you look out even further it’s going to be even more immersive content like VR and AR.”

This demand for more engaging content is not specific to social media. We see a strikingly similar evolution in both eCommerce and automotive. Below is an infographic we put together as we explored the opportunity in automotive. As you can see, the automotive industry lags eCommerce, but still consistently advances its merchandising practices.

eCommerce vs. Automotive

Like Facebook is prepared to serve the content today’s consumer desires, auto dealers must do similarly. No longer will standard photos & video cut it. Dealers need to look for new ways to put their consumers in control online.

Today’s consumer is a different animal with different preferences and processes. Enabling them to quickly and easily obtain content to educate themselves on your website is paramount. Just like today’s teenager wants to check out their sweetheart on Facebook before they’ll schedule a date, today’s car-buyer wants to dig into your inventory before they’ll stop in. Don’t fight the change, embrace it, and you’ll swamp your competition!

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