We are right in the middle of the holiday shopping season. While most consumers are after new kitchen appliances or the latest video game, many are beginning their search for a new car. December is widely known as the best month to buy a new car since salespeople looking to hit their year-end goals are more likely to cut a good deal. To prepare for this prime shopping month, consumers are flocking online to gather information on the latest models.
Searches for “new car” have grown +63% in the 12 weeks ending 11/16/19, showing how quickly consumer online research is ramping up. For car manufacturers and their agencies, nailing down the right digital strategy will be crucial to driving sales in the weeks ahead.
How do you know which target audience of new car buyers is right for your brand? Knowing who your targets are, which brands and models interest them most, and where they collect information online can help you narrow down your focus for this key shopping season.
Know Your Target Audiences
The first step is getting to know the audiences you want to target online. We’ve identified three segments of consumers looking to buy a car in the next 12 months. Each group has distinct backgrounds and interests that influence their purchasing decisions. Understanding the differences and leveraging them in your campaigns can increase their impact.
Electric Car Buyer
Consumers are interested in electric or hybrid vehicles, as searches for “electric car” have increased +12% YoY. This audience is younger, single and medium-to-high earning individuals. They are 42% more likely than the standard online population to believe that their car is an expression of their personality. Electric drivers believe eco-friendly products are higher quality and prefer buying from a company they see as being environmentally friendly.
When advertising to this group, make sure to let the ability to customize your model come through and ensure that sustainability is the main focus. Additionally, they are 43% more likely to actively tell companies to not send catalogs to be more sustainable, so skip mail and print as a method of advertising to this audience.
Family Car Buyer
Another group of new car buyers includes families. These buyers are between 25-44 years old, earn a medium-to-high income and are 31% more likely to be single parents. While this audience is buying with their children in mind, they also base their decision on looks and feel that driving alone gives them a sense of freedom. They are 73% more likely to carry multiple mobile devices and are 68% more likely to purchase products recommended by friends online.
Social media will be a powerful channel for this audience, especially on mobile. Emphasizing the car’s features and ability to flip between personal ride and family car will be key for the family buying group.
Retired Car Buyer
The last group of new buyers are retired Americans looking to buy a second car. This audience is over 65 years old, lives on an average income and is most likely to be married. They feel that cars should be equipped with as many safety features as possible and feel that the technology on the dashboard influences their decision to buy.
Retired buyers are 72% more likely to rely on newspapers to stay informed and 51% more likely to enjoy reading ads in magazines. Creating print campaigns that focus on safety and operational features can win over this audience.
Profile of New Car Buyers
4 weeks ending 11/16/19
Source: Hitwise, US. Profile of consumers who intend to buy a car in the next 12 months, 4 weeks ending 11/16/19.
Understand Target’s Interests
Aside from knowing who your targets are demographically, it’s important to understand which brands and models they are already interested in. Analyzing top searches to the auto industry online can uncover your target audience’s top preferences.
All three audiences are interested in Tesla, but searches for this reach a higher share of the family buyers. The family group is interested in brands like Toyota, Hyundai, and Audi. One of the top car models searched for by family buyers is the Ford Explorer 2019, a 7-passenger vehicle.
Electric buyers are most interested in Subaru, a brand that has recently been promoting the message “Subaru Loves the Earth”, which is resonating with this group.
Retired car buyers are most likely to search for Honda and are also interested in fun weekender cars. A higher share of the retired audience searched for “Corvette 2020” and the “Ford F100”, a vintage model.
New Car Buyers – Top Searches to Auto Industry
4 weeks ending 11/16/19
Source: Hitwise, US. Top searches to auto industry based on reach, 4 weeks ending 11/16/19.
Discover Where They Seek Information
Now that you know who your audience is and which brands they seek, uncovering where they collect their information online can improve your targeting efforts.
Most consumers going to the auto industry online begin on a car comparison site. This website allows users to compare different models based on price, features and availability near them.
Car Gurus is the top visited site for all three new car buying audiences. With over 5.5% of visits from all targets, Car Gurus should be a pivotal part of your online digital ad strategy.
Within the target segments, Carfax is visited more by the electric and retired groups. Kelley Blue Book is the third most viewed site for retired buyers, likely because they are an industry leader in pricing old car models. If focusing on this segment, ensure that KBB is a partner for your campaigns.
Since many consumers will search for cars near them, aligning with your local car dealerships on providing the most accurate information online can be essential to driving sales.
Top Auto Comparison Sites for New Car Buyers
4 weeks ending 11/16/19
Source: Hitwise, US. Top auto comparison sites based on visit share, 4 weeks ending 11/16/19.
To prepare for the most essential month in the car buying cycle, auto advertisers should understand which audiences are seeking new cars right now. Identifying the differences in your target groups and knowing what they search for online can help you create more impactful campaigns. Further, aligning with the comparison sites they leverage for information can ensure you’re apart of the consideration set this holiday season.
For more insights on audience segmentation and how it can lead to impactful advertising, read our recent whitepaper.