Next to a house, buying a car is one of the biggest purchases people make. But gathering information on the right vehicle usually happens in two ways: researching online, where information is relatively static, and actually getting yourself out to a dealership, where people often feel extreme pressure to sign on the dotted line.
Fiat Brazil has devised a way to bridge that gap between the web and real life with its Live Store, a virtual test drive experience that connects people with a team of Fiat experts at the ready to explore a car’s features in real time. When people connect with the Live Store online, they’re greeted by a host wearing proprietary eye-level micro camera who gives prospective customers an up-close-and-personal tour of various Fiat models. The goal, says João Ciaco, Fiat advertising and relationship marketing director, "is to make the visitors forget that they are on the Internet and feel as they were inside the car."
"Fiat Live Store was created to make the digital experience more human and complete, and, at the same time, to diminish the gap between virtual experience and the real experience of the car itself," says Fred Saldanha, chief creative officer of AgênciaClick Isobar, the agency behind the project. "The search for a new car is not made by looking at photos and item lists anymore; it has become a direct, informal conversation with live video."
This direct connection is an important one as Ciaco says that "more than 70%" of Fiat customers research online before going to a dealership. "The buying decision starts much earlier than the visit to a car dealer. Today the Fiat Brazil portal has six million visitors per month who designed around one million cars on the portal customization tool," says Ciaco. "The goal is that Live Store will shorten the purchase-decision process when used prior to visiting dealerships at the early stages of the purchase process. Now the customer can arrive at the dealership more decided on a model." At the end of each visit to Live Store, visitors will be able to schedule a test drive at the nearest Fiat dealership using geo-location.
The Live Store works using MyStream, a device created by AgênciaClick Isobar that Fiat experts wear on their head and includes a high-resolution micro-camera, a microphone, headphones, and a streaming device. The experts also use tablets, which they use to share more car information on screen such as colors and accessories. The system was created with a mix of resources, including Flash, AIR for peer-to-peer communication, and Node.JS for real-time notifications.
More than just a short-lived campaign, Ciaco says Live Store is set to become a perennial customer service tool that Fiat plans to scale over the next few years. Saldanha adds that this work is representative of the way forward for marketers: "Today advertising is much more than a simple idea. It can be a service, a cause, a new product, the beginning of a more interesting conversation. Fiat Live Store is a business model. I believe that this is the future of advertising: doing things that don’t look like advertising, but are relevant to our customers and desired by people."