Used car sales site Motorway is riding the crest of a wave. Sales have tripled over the past 12 months, leading to the business securing £48m of venture capital investment in June.
With 300% growth now projected for 2021, Motorway has already facilitated the sale of 65,000 second-hand cars, the equivalent of a new sale every 10 minutes.
The pandemic has undoubtedly supercharged the online car selling market, with consumers and car dealers rapidly switching from traditional offline, in-person sales to digital alternatives. Motorway expects online car sales to rapidly accelerate in 2021, rising to 20% of all cars sold by the end of the year compared to just 5% in 2020.
CMO Lloyd Page, who joined the business in February from price comparison site MoneySuperMarket, describes Motorway as the fastest growing way to sell your car. He recognises the impact Covid has had on the used car market, which has benefitted from a shortage of new cars and the consumer shift away from travelling on public transport. He also believes car sellers are craving a simple, remote and “hassle and haggle free experience”.
Motorway is a free service that enables consumers to sell their car via their smartphone. They start by creating a profile of their vehicle on the site, uploading photos alongside the service history and notes on any damage. A valuation is given based on a combination of Motorway’s in-house data and industry stats.
The 3,000 verified professional car dealers on the network then bid for the car in the daily online auctions, a process which Motorway claims can result in £1,000 more for the customer by cutting out the middleman. Once sold the car is picked up from the seller’s home, with around 90% of vehicles being sold in the first 24 hours. The breadth of the network means the business can cater for everything from runabouts to supercars.
Page believes the Motorway experience represents a permanent change in the dynamics of the car market and he regards the business as being perfectly positioned to kickstart its brand building journey in earnest.
Success won’t come overnight, it will take time to build the levels of brand awareness that we want to get to.
Lloyd Page, Motorway
“There are about 8 million used cars sold in the UK every year and mostly a lot of dodgy deals, frustrating processes and there has been very little change. We’ve built a product and customer experience that is 10 times better than the legacy competitors,” says Page.
“In terms of our marketing investment, it’s been mostly focused on sales activation in the short term, as opposed to brand building and taking a more balanced, long-term marketing investment view. We do have a successful distributed marketing plan in place, but now is the right time to start to build the brand awareness and what Motorway uniquely stands for, driving that next stage of accelerated growth.”
At the heart of this brand awareness push is a new campaign aimed at priming the nation to sell their car with Motorway, the first piece of work from the brand’s new agency line up of Wonderhood Studios and MG OMD.
Launching today (20 August) and running until the end of the year, the campaign follows the journey of a Motorway customer enjoying the end-to-end experience for the first time.
As the seller uploads his car onto the platform while relaxing in the bath, viewers are given a sneak peek behind the scenes as Motorway works to find the customer the best deal. Set on an actual motorway, car dealers race against each other to reach the car, all bidding to get the best price.
New creative concept
The campaign marks a change in the creative idea, replacing the existing tagline – ‘Sell your car like a pro’ – with the new brand expression: ‘This is the Motorway’. The new idea plays into the various brand benefits, from the ‘Sell from home way’ to the ‘Sell up to £1,000 more way’.
Page describes the car industry as a “noisy marketplace” dominated by legacy players and online rivals investing heavily to gain consumers’ attention, meaning it was crucial to develop a creative strategy that would set Motorway apart.
“You need to create something distinct and memorable around your brand, and we needed to play into the brand name, so that was part of the conversation within the business. It also lives in the fact that we have built a 10 times better way to sell your car, so it is not better in any singular way,” he explains.
“The new creative expression feels true to the product and experience. It’s rooted in the product truth and thinking about a brand that’s going to cut through, be meaningful and relevant for the target audience.”
Broadcast makes up the bulk of the media investment, running across TV and BVoD. The 30-second ad launches during Coronation Street on ITV at 8pm tonight, as well as via a programme takeover of Channel 4’s Deceit between 9-10pm.
Going forward radio will form a large part of the campaign, having performed strongly for the brand over the past 18 months, alongside outdoor bursts in London and the South East where Motorway has over-indexed in sales. Social media is another important channel in the mix.
“We have seen huge engagement in those channels, particularly over the pandemic peak. Some of those peaks have dropped away, but they’re still such a core part of our lives now,” says Page.
“TV, outdoor, radio and social are our core channels as part of this advertising push, not forgetting the existing channels we utilise across short-term sales activation to ensure this new core idea of ‘This is the Motorway’ plays out through our affiliates, partnerships, email activities and of course our website.”
While the brand initially tried TV back in 2019, just two years on from its launch, Page explains Motorway is at a different stage in its maturity and the development of its product and customer service, which makes broadcast a good fit.
When it comes to measuring the campaign’s success, Page will be looking for an impact in the short term, as well as analysing a broad range of KPIs across both the business, media and brand. While he is keen to take a long-term view, the team will continue to measure the performance of the business on a daily basis, learning where to adapt and optimise.
“There’s a clear conversation with the leaders of the business, and also our investors and our board, and a real understanding that we’re here to build a meaningful business for the long term. Part of that long-term journey in disrupting and creating a better car marketplace,” says Page.
“We’re starting that building of the brand through brand communications, which is a long-term objective and so this is about 2021, 2022 and beyond.”
Reflecting on his previous role as marketing director at MoneySuperMarket, Page believes the dynamics of the price comparison sector are applicable to many industries, not just the car market.
That being said, he argues that as in the fiercely competitive price comparison space, it will become increasingly important for players in the car selling category to build strong and distinct brand positions.
Page is, however, convinced Motorway has “significant clear water and superior benefits” compared with the legacy competitors. Customer insights suggest communicating the benefits around ease of use and the fact the service is free present compelling points of difference.
Motorway’s first CMO, Page is on the leadership team and works alongside co-founder Alex Buttle, who also serves as marketing director. He says he feels incredibly lucky to have joined the business in its current stage, especially given he was in search of a fresh challenge.
“I was looking for that opportunity to really build a brand and a business, and deploy that experience I’ve gained in other brands as part of the core leadership team,” Page explains.
“Whenever you join a company you never fully know from the outside, but even though it was via multiple Zoom meetings I felt there was a very strong alignment between myself and the leaders of Motorway, the ambition they had and their focus on creating a world class customer experience.”
He recognises the business is starting from a low base in terms of brand awareness and the process of making the “Motorway difference” famous will take time. Page is also keen that the team continues to learn in greater depth about consumers, in order to develop new products and determine the future direction of the marketing strategy.
“Success won’t come overnight, it will take time to build the levels of brand awareness that we want to get to. We want to be the definitive way that people choose to sell their car in the UK. It will take 2021, 2022 and probably 2023 to get up to the awareness levels that we’d like to get to,” he adds.
“We’re not stopping there. We’re constantly seeking to understand consumers needs and wants, and reviewing our strategy to work out what’s next. So, no doubt a big part of the rest of this year will be defining our strategy into 2022 and beyond.”