If you're an executive tasked with preparing your brand for the next generation of business, look to Fiat Chrysler for leadership, especially when it comes to capitalizing on millennial consumer trends.
In mid-November, Fiat Chrysler announced it was teaming up with Amazon to begin selling cars online in Italy -- with an additional discount, at that. The partnership shows not only a true commitment to technological change and innovation, particularly within the more traditional automotive industry, but also that Fiat Chrysler really understands that consumers seek the path of least resistance when it comes to buying in the 21st century. Furthermore, to a millennial like me, Fiat Chrysler's move marks a significant strategic change: one that speaks directly to a consumer group that craves transparency and innovation as essential core values.
To further explore why this partnership is such a phenomenal example of brilliant executives preparing for the next generation of business, let me tell you a story about pizza.
I once gave a talk on the "millennial mindset" to corporations and executive groups. In it, I ran through one of my favorite case studies on Domino's Pizza. Domino's CEO Patrick Doyle made a big move in 2009 when he announced that his pizza quality wasn't up to par. As part of his efforts to increase the quality of his product, he brilliantly designed the Domino's Pizza Tracker. Like Fiat Chrysler's partnership with Amazon, the tracker allowed consumers to purchase more freely and transparently, which gave Domino's an extraordinary competitive advantage.
You might be surprised to learn that one of the best parts of this technology wasn't about consumer purchasing: It was about the acquisition of Big Data. Just as Domino's was able to mine incredible insights from its ordering-and-processing technology, think of the data that Fiat Chrysler will mine from its relationship with Amazon. Who is shopping? When? From where? What pages do they visit? What reviews do they read? Imagine what these answers will give to Fiat Chrysler -- answers that its competition won't have for years.
With Domino's and Fiat Chrysler in mind, here are three takeaways for key executives in every industry needing to prepare their businesses for the next generation of millennial consumers.
Embrace Purchasing Transparency
The traditional car buying experience is laughable to a millennial. Negotiation games and antiquated sales tactics are the antithesis to the millennial shopping experience, in which prices are transparent, comparisons are easy and peer reviews always take precedence over brand-supplied information.
When you examine your consumer path-to-purchase, how easy, clear and transparent is your process? Do you hide any information? If so, can it be shared freely to earn the trust of your prospective customers? Typically, executives grapple with a perceived-versus-actual danger in sharing "proprietary" information, hiding behind excuses like, "But then our competition will know!"
In the age of the internet, businesses must move past this nonsense and embrace transparency as a core value. Withholding information today won't just keep the competition in the dark; it will also keep prospects from understanding vital information. We are living in a time when purchasing online is de rigeur, and it behooves all executives to craft a purchasing experience in accordance with the transparency of our time.
Position Your Brand for Big Data
I'm always shocked at how few organizations track the data points that matter. Though they were simple statistics, Domino's collected information, like the time it took to receive an order, make a pizza, deliver it, etc., which made for big wins on the front lines in Domino's stores worldwide. With simple behavioral data gained from Amazon, Fiat Chrysler could similarly uncover incredible insights over its dealership-dependent competitors.
As an executive, it's your responsibility to ensure that every relevant piece of data within your organization is collected and analyzed (and the simpler the data, the better!).
Gain a First-Mover Advantage Through Technological Innovation
In the case of Fiat Chrysler, executives didn't have to build their own technology platform. All they did was something thousands of people across the world do every day: create an Amazon account, list a product and sell it. Today's commerce really is that simple.
As a key executive, ask yourself where simple innovations might be hiding within your own organization, and start brainstorming where and how you can uncover those today.
From the time Domino's invested in its transparent and data-driven strategy in 2010, its stock price (DPZ) has increased 1,640 percent (from a low of around $10 to a current price around $170). Just as with Domino's, I'll be looking for Fiat Chrysler's stock (FCAU) to enjoy its own meteoric rise in the years to come, provided that it can sustain this strategic direction towards transparency.
Peter Kozodoy is an author, speaker, serial entrepreneur and the Chief Strategy Officer of GEM Advertising. Follow him @PeterKozodoy.