SAN DIEGO: Kia, the automaker, saw success by leveraging a chatbot on Facebook Messenger as part of the launch campaign for its Niro hybrid vehicle.

Eugene Santos, Senior Manager/Digital and Social Media Marketing at Kia Motors America, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2017 Digital & Social Media Conference.

One reason for building a chatbot – which has handled over 800,000 interactions since going live in November 2016, with the Niro car hitting the market in February 2017 – was a key insight about the potential buyer for this vehicle.

“From research, we know that a hybrid consumer can be tech nerdy,” said Santos. (For more details, read WARC’s exclusive report: How a chatbot helped Kia launch a new car.)

In providing information about its latest offering, and demonstrating that Kia was on the technological cutting edge, this bot could also assist in tackling outdated perceptions which had persisted since it entered the US market 24 years ago.

“Where we feel we can really make an impact is in the research phase [of the customer journey] and how people learn about our product,” Santos said. “We can break down this perception of who we are as a brand. That is where Nirobot comes in.”

Kia, in fact, even debuted its 2017 Super Bowl spot – starring the actress Melissa McCarthy – through its bot, indicating the importance of taking an integrated approach.

“All this technology is great ... but it wouldn’t go anywhere if we didn’t grow it with our Super Bowl campaign,” Santos told the ANA delegates.

In making sure that this digital solution helped Kia show that “we’re not your mom and dad’s Prius; we’re new”, he continued, it was given a light-hearted personality that reflected millennial culture.

“We wanted to make our Nirobot not just another tool, but really another channel,” Santos said. “A brand ambassador, if you will.

“It was easy to come up with a personality for the Nirobot that was fun, that was cheeky .... It’s just a way for us to keep ourselves sticky with the consumer and let them know, ‘We’re a brand for you.’”

Data sourced from WARC