Phoenix Ad Flagging, Best Practices, and Consumer Sentiment All Point to Boosting “Green” Image
Phoenix Marketing International, a top US market research firm, reports on market signals related to increasing acceptance of hybrid/electric vehicles among automotive consumers. The primary signals of the impending shift toward alternative fuel vehicles have been the increase in overall fleet fuel efficiency mandates, and the subsequent push from manufacturers to boost alternative fuel vehicle sales. Phoenix shows there is mounting evidence for acceptance on the consumer side as well, citing ongoing automotive ad tracking and consumer sentiment research.
Part of Phoenix Automotive’s ad tracking includes flagging ads for their type and content such as sales event ads, launch ads, brand image ads, and product-sustaining ads. Included also in the flagging are ads that contain specific messaging elements related to alternative fuels or other green innovations. “Simply mentioning MPG doesn’t count as a ‘green’ ad,” states Phoenix Analyst Kevin Severance. “The ad must mention hybrid, diesel, electric, or the like in order for it to be tracked as a ‘green’ ad.” The representation of green ads that Phoenix has tested as part of their Share-of-Voice ad tracking increased during the period from 2011 to 2012. According to Phoenix, the increase has come about largely due to the increase in hybrid and electric vehicles that have come to market during that time, and because manufacturers are dedicating marketing resources to promote them. However, by tracking and analyzing the performance of these ads, Phoenix finds that consumers are warming to the idea of alternative fuel vehicles as well.
In its annual “Automotive Advertising Best Practices” reports that reveal the best performing ads of 2011 and 2012, Phoenix found that messaging on innovation is something that resonates across the automotive industry, both with non-luxury and luxury vehicle consumers. More specifically, messaging on innovations that lead to better fuel economy or alternative fuel vehicles is what often resonates more heavily with car consumers – particularly those in the younger age brackets. Severance adds, “There has some chatter about how younger people aren’t as keen on buying cars as older generations. We’ve seen in our research that communicating green innovations that are utilized in more efficient or eco-friendly vehicles can help capture the attention of younger buyers.”
Some of the best performing ads as reported by Phoenix Automotive have include ads for hybrid, electric, or diesel cars. Severance comments, “In the non-luxury car segment, we’ve seen successes in automotive advertising recently for vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, and for Volkswagen TDI Clean Diesel. These ads’ presence and performance clearly indicate growing consumer interest for innovations in efficiency.”
In addition to reporting positive ad performance metrics for green ads, Phoenix also presents data that represent consumers’ willingness to consider alternative fuel vehicles on their next purchase. In July 2012 and January 2013, Phoenix asked consumers how likely they are to consider an alternative fuel vehicle on their next purchase. Those who might consider or who are likely or extremely likely to consider one are “accepting” of alternative fuel technologies. The numbers indicate a clear divide between older and younger consumers: Baby Boomers at 40% VS. Gen X/Y at 68% acceptance of alternative fuel vehicles for those in the market for a non-luxury vehicle. For luxury vehicle consumers, the Baby Boomers are slightly more accepting at 49%.
Severance concludes, “The increased presence, awareness, and consideration of alternative fuel vehicles across the industry mean it is crucial for all automotive brands to hone the ‘green’ angle of their image and related communications. We look forward to finding new insights into how ‘green’ ads successfully attract and persuade automotive consumers.”
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Phoenix measures advertising performance across five vehicle categories (non-luxury car, non-luxury CUV/SUV, truck, luxury car, and luxury CUV/SUV) and tracks the brand health of leading automotive companies in two segments (luxury and non-luxury). Data are collected monthly from 1800+ U.S. consumers who have recently purchased or are currently in the market for a new vehicle. Brands tracked for advertising and brand data include Acura, Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Jeep, Kia, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercedes, Mini, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Ram, Range Rover, Saab, Scion, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo.
Brian Maraone/Vice-President, Phoenix Automotive