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COVID-19 has disrupted the world as we know it and changed consumer behaviour beyond recognition, but the crisis has also accelerated trends including the evolution of the consumer journey. Public transport use has reduced immensely following concerns over safety in the age of coronavirus, resulting in many using their cars more frequently to make commutes and complete trips.

In a panel discussion held between The Drum and navigation app Waze as well as various industry insiders, the conversation turned to the opportunities available for brands within the consumer commute and how they can monetise the increased time drivers spend within their own vehicles.

The session was moderated by The Drum's editor-in-chief, Gordon Young who was joined by Ruairidh Roberts, country manager at Waze UK, Vicky Fox, chief planning officer at OMD, Steven Hewett, head of retail at Capgemini and VMLY&R's director of emerging technology, Gracie Page. Held to correspond with The Drum’s Solutions Day – which looks at what solutions are currently available and emerging in this new market ecosystem – the session looked at the challenges, research and considerations being explored through consumer commutes and the automotive industry.

Adjustments have been made across industries such as retail and entertainment to respond to the increase in online consumer behaviour. Many have improved their services to meet the needs of their users with brands improving their click and collect capabilities and adapting their social offerings – just think of the resurgence of drive-in cinemas. As interest in the automation of the automotive industry rises, with the dawn of self-driving cars, the panellists considered the role that vehicles could play in future. Page says: “Cars will become the next major channel for consumers, brands and media to explore. They’re not that far off becoming an engaging channel.” She questions whether vehicles could act as a replacement to the physical experiences lost mid-pandemic, especially in the lead-up to Christmas, when cultural family outings become more popular.

It’s not impossible, assures Waze, who are excited by the emerging possibilities around innovation. “Waze as a platform has taken on an additional sense of responsibility,” says Roberts. “Where previously, we were an option for advertisers to communicate to people at a particular point in their day, when they are in their vehicles, now we are a means of communication for companies that have had to pivot their consumer service. Because people are spending longer in their vehicles that’s quite a lot of time that advertisers otherwise can’t communicate with people. We’ve launched something called location personalities which is a very simple way of communicating things like click and collect services and drive through services, and we’re finding that has helped bring footfall to our customers.”

The panel coincides with the release of another Waze video which sees The Drum use Waze to find London in a 117 year old car, watch it here