3 New Auto Buyer Behaviors Marketers Need to Know
Automobile marketers have special challenges as they try to appeal to consumers with mindsets they've never seen before—social media savvy post-recessioners who don't trust pre-packaged, corporate messages.
That, according to Rochester, Mich.-based market research firm Foresight Research, is what new vehicle buyers are telling them this year. Asked about the marketing messages that influenced their purchases, the new auto buyers responded in two surveys: the "2012 Social Media Auto Marketing Report," announced on Aug. 21; and the "2012 Automotive Marketing Communications Study," released on March 19.
"By comparing our recent findings to past years' results, we see behavioral changes that may represent the new future marketing reality," says Steve Bruyn, CEO of Foresight Research in the March 19 study announcement.
The new behavior of auto customers:
- Listens to fewer marketing communications, according to the March 19 research. Doesn't embrace social media "messages known to be packaged or provided by the marketer," finds the Aug. 21 report.
- Does care about social media messages from trusted sources in the following ways, finds the Aug. 21 report: 16 percent of buyers discussed automobiles on social media during the 12 months before purchase, 5 percent were highly influenced by those discussions, and most of the influence happened at the beginning and middle stages of the decision process.
What marketers can do about the findings:
- Know that auto buyers want to see emotional messages in social media, even though those aren't the messages they respond to in other channels. If cars and trucks are "fun to drive," those reviews and comments are valuable in the social channel, finds the Aug. 21 report. But post-recession consumers mostly respond to information they view as practical, such as discounts and competitive comparisons, according to the March 19 study. Vehicle reviews, however, do cross over as useful messages in both studies.
- Understand social media marketing's "unique requirements," Foresight reports on Aug. 21. Bruyn says: "Successful use of social media relies on building word of mouth from trusted sources rather than messages known to be packaged or provided by the marketer."
- Know that auto buyers are also the ones creating those social media messages. The Aug. 21 report announcement states: "Social media users generate 40 percent more word of mouth recommendations each year than the average new car buyer. … Buyers of Mitsubishi, Audi, BMW, Infiniti and Volkswagen are most likely to post online comments about their new vehicle(s)."