2 min read

Immersion on the Move

By Paul J. Zak on Jul 6, 2020 3:20:34 PM

Topics: marketing Events

Every year cars have more automated features, but some people still want to get on the road simply for the fun of driving.  Driving is especially enjoyable when one has the right vehicle for the journey.  I have a Hummer that my dog and I take out to the mountains. I did some research on on off-road vehicles before I bought my Hummer, drove a couple of used ones, and then took the plunge.  Just like dating, it is hard for people to know which car is the right match for them. 

A Los Angeles automotive strategy company designed an off-road course that would give consumers a chance to challenge themselves. They wondered if the experience would be immersive and if so, why.  And, they wanted to know if it would sell cars.  Their client was an American manufacturer of sports utility vehicles.

Advertisements offered qualified buyers a chance to drive the course while being coached by a professional off-roader. The driver was given a smart watch that sent data to cloud servers through our mobile app to measure immersion.  Potential buyers drove the course twice to see if they improved their ability to get around or through obstacles. 

The data showed that people were deeply immersed in the most challenging parts of the course.  This was true for both the first and second times they drove it.  The company did not share purchase data with us, retail clients using the Immersion platform have shown that sales happen during immersion peaks. 

Our data show that car dealers should consider using driving adventures or similarly immersive experiences in the sales process.  Experiential selling will be more effective when the demo ends on an immersion peak. This "wow" factor is why high-adrenaline experiences like sky-diving or go-kart racing offer customers a subscription for future use immediately after the experience.  Car dealers can even show prospective buyers their immersion after the test drive to demonstrate how much they loved the experience. Buying the car will give them this amazing experience again and again.  

Test-driving a car should be an exciting experience, not a lethargic ramble around the block.  Automobile manufacturers should design, rehearse, measure immersion, and improve the test-drive experience and then train dealers how to give this experience to every customer.  Immersion makes customers happy and closes sales.  It's a no brainer.   Strike that, it's an immersion-brainer.

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Paul J. Zak

Written by Paul J. Zak

Paul’s two decades of research have taken him from the Pentagon to Fortune 50 boardrooms to the rain forest of Papua New Guinea. All this in a quest to understand the neuroscience of human connection, human happiness, and effective teamwork.