- Renault Italy is selling a limited edition of its latest Captur SUV through a chatbot on Facebook Messenger, which has 1.3 billion users worldwide. The campaign includes a Japanese-style animated series on Instagram Stories that shows the nighttime journey of two men in Tokyo who meet a "mysterious" character who can help buy one of the 100 SUVs available, Adweek reported.
- Viewers of the "Tokyo Stories" series can connect with a chatbot of the salesman character, an animated man wearing a red suit, to pre-order the Japanese-inspired vehicle. Renault Italy rolled out the campaign on Oct. 10 and received two orders via the bot within 24 hours, according to The Drum.
- Renault Italy worked with Publicis Italy to develop the Instagram Stories series and the Facebook Messenger chatbot.
Renault Italy's campaign for the Captur SUV is innovative for combining a series on Instagram Stories with a Facebook Messenger chatbot to sell a car directly to consumers. The campaign appears to target younger tech-savvy adults who are already tuned into these social platforms and are more likely than older generations to purchase a car online. A chatbot on a mobile platform like Messenger may become a more important marketing channel for big-ticket items like cars if campaigns like Renault Italy's prove to be effective in engaging consumers and driving sales.
This creative mobile campaign comes shortly after Facebook updated its Messenger platform this month with a test feature that lets businesses introduce new "personas" to a chatbot conversation, such as when a chat is handed off to a live customer service agent, per a company blog post. The social network also debuted a plugin to let businesses that use WordPress to run their websites create Messenger chatbots to interact with their visitors. Facebook is repurposing the technology developed for M, a digital assistant like Apple's Siri or Amazon's Alexa, into M Suggestions to help Messenger users handle functions like making payments or a video call. Facebook also seeks to expand its features to handle real-time language translations, which would increase the the app's functionality and open the door for more people around the globe to use the platform, according to Business Insider.
About half of people from the U.S. and U.K. reported liking chat platforms to quickly get answers to inquiries that would've historically taken place over the phone. However, their reactions to chatbots tend to be less favorable, a survey by enterprise software developer CGS found. Its study found that 40% to 50% prefer speaking to a human instead of a chatbot because chatbots can't yet provide the same depth of knowledge of a product as a human, causing frustration and potentially souring the shopping experience, especially when it comes to big-ticket items like cars.