Segmenting Auto Brand Audiences

Segmenting Auto Brand Audiences

Car buying reached record peaks in 2016, but after sales plunged 4.7% in April of this year, experts believe the pendulum may be swinging back in the other direction.

According to the Wall Street Journal, car sales are down this year, and even the previously dominant SUV sales have flattened. Nevertheless, the industry maintains sparks of opportunity.Companies like Ford and GM are investing heavily in technology innovation, while the sale of electric and hybrid vehicles increased by 74% year-on-year, and brands like Tesla drive powerful public interest surrounding their Model 3. As auto brands tighten their belts, it’s more crucial to increase pipeline and sales — especially through digital channels.

Toyota Audience: Three Levels of Intent

 

The most fundamental phases of the car-buying cycle can be broken into three buckets: research, intent and ownership. In the chart below, we see that although these groups are all part of the “Toyota audience,” they each have distinct characteristics.

While it’s valuable for Toyota to understand their customers, studying their “pre-purchase” audience can help them speak to aspirational buyers more effectively. The data below indicates that although Researchers and Intenders will appreciate the practicality of their Toyotas after they become Owners, until then they want a car that expresses their personality, has extra horsepower and sports plenty of extra features. These elements should come through clearly in campaigns targeted to a younger “pre-purchase” audience.

 

 

Honda Seekers: Segmenting by Class

 

Even after you segment by purchase intent, lumping the “Toyota audience” or “Honda audience” together is far too broad. The differences between someone interested in a Honda Fit versus a Honda Odyssey are vast. Segmenting by both make (Honda, Toyota) and class (hatchback, SUV) provides valuable insights for better segmentation, ad strategy and creative. In the example below, we see how varied Honda Seekers are; depending on which class of car they are interested in.

Based on the “Mini-Van” insights, Honda might tailor their Honda Odyssey ad campaigns towards Millennial moms, and depict them buckling in a female toddler in the back seat. Or they might pursue promotional partnerships with Cars.com or KBB, which Mini-Van seekers are more likely to visit than Hatchback or SUV audiences.

 

 

You can slice and dice your own audience in myriad ways in order to understand their attributes and path to purchase: researchers vs. intenders, sedan vs. SUV seekers — what makes each of these customers tick? Where do they research online? How can you speak to them better, and reach them earlier? Click here to read the full Auto Trends Report 2017.

Methodology: Toyota segments built using Hitwise AudienceView, pulled over 4 weeks ending 8/19/2017. Honda segments built using Hitwise AudienceView based on people searching for Honda hatchback models, Honda SUV models, and Honda mini-van models. Audience profile pulled over 4 weeks ending 8/19/2017.