Auto Industry: Targeting Unique Audiences

Auto Industry: Targeting Unique Audiences

How can you identify unique attributes of your audience and high-value segments before the competition? As we detail in our Auto Industry 2017 report, it’s more crucial than ever to increase pipeline and sales — especially through digital channels. The buying cycle is long, and almost all car research begins on a screen, whether through search engines, websites or advertisements. Targeting unique audiences effectively is key to your success.

The reality is, your customers will not be deciding between two models of the same brand (for example, the Mazda CX-9 and the Mazda 3). Instead, they would weigh the Mazda 3 against a car of a similar class and price range, like the Chevy Cruze. Consumers seeking a Mazda 3 or a Chevy Cruze are behaviorally quite similar, but demographic and life stage data paints a picture of two distinctive audiences, which could be targeted with unique ad campaigns:



The car-buying cycle is long and the period between awareness and purchase can span many years. The marketing cycle for luxury cars stretches even longer: a successful luxury brand must plant seeds of aspiration very early in a consumer’s life. Reaching the right consumers in this “pre-luxury” state (and sowing seeds of desire with the right audience) can be difficult to do in a strategic, cost-effective way. Let’s explore how a brand like Mercedes might do just that. If we measure the crossover between the young “College Millennial” life stage segment and several competing luxury auto brand audiences, Mercedes emerges with the highest audience overlap:



Mercedes may have a smaller US presence than the others, but College Millennials are already engaging with Mercedes more relative to other luxury brands: they are researching Mercedes models, visiting and even leasing their cars. If Mercedes wants to take advantage of this edge they have with this age group — where should they begin?

Build a Desired Segment

Based on real, targetable segments we can layer a unique audience for Mercedes to reach:




The first two segments are a given. The “Luxury” segment was added to cast a wider net. Ideally the “pre-luxury” audience is interested in Mercedes cars, but expressing a more general interest in other luxury automobiles at an early age also provides an opportunity to poach future customers from the likes of BMW or Porsche by nurturing this relationship early.

Building and Targeting Unique Audiences


Profiling this unique “pre-luxury” segment reveals that many of them are actually older Millennials (not 18-22 year-old college students at 4-year universities), and slightly more female:


Craft the Campaign


Now Mercedes has the ideal “pre-luxury” segment, and knows a lot about them — next they might build a series of creative display campaigns based on what they know:


  • Speak to both genders: This group is split nearly 50/50, so Mercedes might want to create separate campaigns tailored to both men and women.
  • Diversity of audience: This segment is more likely than average to be Hispanic or Asian, so incorporating a diversity of representation in their creative is important.
  • Focus on flashy: The “pre-luxury” audience cares deeply about appearances, ambition and (of course) having a fast car. Mercedes should ensure the visual creative depicts their cars with head turning levels of sleekness and horsepower.
  • Eco-friendly: They are Millennials, after all. Mercedes might consider creating a display campaign to promote their upcoming electric concept car, the compact EQ brand, to this segment. That way they will sow seeds of interest amongst a Millennial audience who is likely to become the main target market for the Mercedes EQ in the future.

This blog is derived from an in-depth report that uses real data from brands like Honda, Toyota and Mazda to break down tactics for advanced segmentation, competitive analysis and audience activation. We will also spotlight Tesla, and the science behind their PR success.

Click to download the full Auto Trends 2017 report now.

Methodology: Segments built using Hitwise AudienceView based on people searching for variations of “mazda 3” and people searching for variations of “chevy cruze.” Audience profile pulled over 4 weeks ending 8/19/2017. Segments based on Hitwise Auto segments (Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and Audi) and LifeStage segment (College Millennials). Learn more about how to activate these and other audience segments here. Audience cross-tabulation pulled over 4 weeks ending 8/19/2017.