Cars.com aims to position itself as a matchmaker with its “We Met on Cars.com” brand campaign. Using a dating app-like Matchmaking Experience on both the company’s homepage and mobile app, the car selling platform is using artificial intelligence to connect potential buyers with their ideal vehicles. It is also complementing the experience with a “How We Met” brand campaign that features scenarios where people of various backgrounds and interests found their dream cars.
Described as the “Tinder for car shopping,” the Cars.com app and homepage allows users to input their preferences across 15 different criteria. The AI then searches through thousands of listings to deliver 20 matches that best suit the potential buyer’s tastes, sentiments and location. In a dating app-like style, users can choose “like” or “don’t like” for each recommendation to further refine results so they find the right one.
The Matchmaking Experience was created in response to a company study that revealed that car shopping is one of the least pleasant things people have to do. Respondents said that they would rather go to the DMV, attend jury duty, clean toilets or have long phone conversations with their in-laws than shop for a new vehicle.
But the app could help change that perception. According to a press release, the Matchmaking Experience pilot program conducted in early July yielded extremely positive results, with an 87 percent increase in return visitors, a 225 percent increase in email leads, and twice as many page views per visitor compared to the traditional search experience.
“We’re treating people like human beings with distinct emotional nuances, not just site users, as we build a more relevant, personalized car-shopping experience,” Cars.com chief product officer Tony Zolla said in a statement. “Early-stage car shoppers don’t know what they’re looking for. In fact, an overwhelming majority are undecided on make and model, yet nearly all online car search experiences force people to select make or model as the first step in their journey.”
The app experience is accompanied by an ad campaign that similarly romanticizes finding the right car. For example, the campaign’s first TV spot includes a cowgirl who finds a pickup truck with lots of horsepower, a labradoodle owner who connects with a hybrid, and a crew team that expands with a bigger SUV. Additionally, content partnerships with companies such as Tinder will help to solidify the connection between matchmaking and car buying.
Cars.com is planning a multi-channel effort across TV, digital, social and program integration for its campaign, putting matchmaking and personalization at the center of it.
In a press release, Cars.com chief marketing officer Brooke Skinner Ricketts said, “Our new omni-channel campaign tells the story of how Cars.com creates chemistry that endures long after shoppers find the car of their dreams. We’re rekindling the emotional connection that sometimes gets lost between the dream and the drive, and we’re injecting fun back into car shopping.”
Cars.com isn’t the only company that’s looking to take away the pain of car shopping. Automaker Hyundai partnered with Amazon to launch a digital showroom in July, which let potential buyers browse, learn about and select vehicles without having to interact with salespeople.