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Demographics and the automotive purchasing mindset: How to create a campaign that speaks to everyone

Posted by Michelle Keefe on August 20, 2014

Let’s consider for a moment the consumer. Who exactly comes to mind? Someone active in the marketplace, we all know that, but how often does an actual person, with limbs and hair and maybe even a little dash of attitude, form in your imagination?

If you’re developing a campaign for toys or makeup, the answer is easy. The automotive industry, however, deals with a wide-ranging demographic. Car buyers come with a set of expectations, and those expectations are largely determined by age, gender, lifestyle and location. A farmer in Indiana might not care so much for up-to-date technology in his car, but a young professional in Chicago probably would.

“Driving Through the Consumer’s Mind,” a 2014 Deloitte study, exposes the differences and similarities that exist within this broad consumer set. In automotive communications, it’s essential to appeal to both Old McDonald and Brad the recent college grad in one campaign. Below are a couple insights that can help.

Personalization is more than just a name.
Marketers devote a lot of time and attention to concept development, messaging and presentation. They have a whole system in place to ensure that all the elements of success are met. Before any campaign is released to market, you can be sure that dozens of eyes have scrutinized every last inch and detail of the work.

None of this matters if attention isn’t also given to the target.

Across the spectrum, male, female, gen X and gen Y consumers respond to personalized automotive communications that go beyond simply identifying them by name. When you cite purchase history, account identifiers and other relevant data in a direct mail letter or a personalized URL (PURL), you remind consumers of their previous investment in your product, conjuring the trust that comes with familiarity. Personalization also proves to the consumer that your commitment to them does not stop at the checkout. Their information exists in your records. Your automotive communications should prove that you haven’t forgotten about them.

Jacobs & Clevenger recently conducted research that found two out of three consumers prefer personalized automotive communications. Personalization is trending in several industries. Mobile devices now allow for greater and quicker access to personal accounts. Everything is streamlined, including the path to purchase. In a way, personalization acts like a kind of customer service because it supplies customers with information they need to move forward.

Bottom line: Personalization can kick your campaign into high gear. Don’t ever settle for “Dear valued customer.” Hank, Alma, Sabir, Sarah and all the rest will appreciate it.

There’s no such thing as the casual car buyer.
The automotive industry is vast, and consumers have plenty of options from which to choose. According to Deloitte, a very small number of consumers stay loyal to a brand, which means they’re doing their research.1

Marketers are responsible for educating consumers about a product or service. Content marketing is crucial to the success of a campaign because it equips consumers with the information they need to make a purchase. Social media is a great place to start. Advertising Age reports that roughly 17% of men and women in their early 20s are active on Facebook, just two percentage points more than individuals with much busier lifestyles in their 30s and 40s.2

Content marketing paves the way for marketing through other channels. The information content marketing provides can be pulled from a main source and readily distributed. When information is handy, it gives marketers a reason to post to social media and fresh content to generate interest. Posting to social media sites increases your online presence and visibility.

For automotive communications, all posts should drive to the main dealership website or personalized landing page so that the consumer can begin shopping, or at the very least, researching, immediately. Set your dealership apart with defining, relevant content about your brand. Consumers are more likely to make a purchase when they trust a dealer, so give them the facts they need to get them to choose you.

Following up with behavioral and trigger emails when car shoppers are actively looking is another proven way to drive response with automotive communications, no matter who your target is. Deloitte finds that the average time between car purchases is around six to seven years. Women are more likely to consider a new car after logging in about 28,000 miles, whereas men are more likely to hold off until they’ve reached 35,000. While the difference isn’t so great, this kind of information gives automotive marketers an idea of how long they can expect to manage and nurture their relationship with the consumer after a purchase has been made. It can also help determine your marketing strategy post-purchase.
Sign up now to get your free content marketing assessment Personalization and content marketing are two ways to achieve a successful automotive marketing campaign. Take the time to understand your target—that’s half the battle—and provide the target with useful information to set you apart from the crowd.

To learn more about automotive trends, consumer behavior and how to reach a broad market, check out Five car shopping trends that automotive marketers shouldn’t ignore.


1. Deloitte, Driving Through the Consumer’s Mind: Considerations forCar Purchase, February 2014.
2. Advertising Age

Topics: Automotive Industry

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