Phoenix Marketing International’s Automotive Division Uncovers Advertising Techniques that Resonate with Younger Automotive Consumers

Three key recommendations shed light on the most successful ways to break through the clutter for the under 46 demographic with insight from brands including Audi and BMW

It’s no secret these days that automakers are investing a lot of time, effort, and money to try to reach the growing audience of young automotive consumers. Strong advertising is certainly a key component that automakers can leverage to promote themselves and their vehicles to appeal to younger buyers. The automotive division of Phoenix Marketing International, a premier global marketing services firm, has analyzed and identified the top luxury vehicle ads that break through among the under 46 demographic and has outlined the top three creative strategies and trends that have proven to be successful in garnering attention and breaking through the clutter in the automotive advertising space.

1. Communicate Unique Offerings

The first and arguably the most influential concept that automotive advertisers need to understand is that, oftentimes, younger consumers aspire to have unique experiences and products. With the growth of technology and the desire to share one’s life experiences via social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, it’s clear that the concept of being unique and different is something that is very important to this demographic.

Several automakers have tapped into this notion.For example, Audi’s ad titled “Unique” perfectly demonstrates success among this particular age group. The ad positions the Audi Q5 SUV as a distinct, nonconforming alternative to the norm, contrasting with the cookie-cutter suburban neighborhood shown in the ad (in which everyone else drives beige Lexus RX SUVs). <<Click Here for Audi’s ad>>  Respondents in Phoenix’s study gave this ad candid praise with comments such as: “[the ad] expresses my personality” and “reminded me of the opening to [critically-acclaimed TV series] ‘Weeds,’ which I liked, and thought was clever.” This ad is very much a breakthrough success- it was one of the top-performing luxury vehicle ads of 2015 among younger consumers, despite not even breaking into the top 30 overall ads of the year.

2. Use Humor to Engage Effectively

Today, younger buyers are constantly inundated with advertising across so many different media types, so they’re often more receptive to advertising that entertains them and captures their attention. The days of stodgy media types are expiring quickly – even in more traditional media channels such as TV, where younger viewers are more accustomed to receiving news from humorous, even satirical sources such as John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, and Jon Stewart. These trends in particular have paved the way for new possibilities in advertising to younger consumers.

When used in conjunction with clear, informative message delivery, younger consumers tend to have a higher appreciation for humorous creative concepts. BMW and Audi in particular have capitalized on this concept by releasing ads that utilize creative, clever, and humorous storylines and concepts that use more of a soft-sell method to reach potential buyers. This approach is effective because viewers stay engaged to what’s being advertised, and it helps eliminate the uncomfortable pressure of a pushy sales pitch that many younger viewers strongly dislike.

3. Highlight Affordability and Value

The third recommendation that automakers can use to gain leverage with their advertising is more concerned with the subject of an ad rather than the creative execution. Younger consumers are more receptive to seeing more affordable vehicles that can provide an entryway into a luxury brand, allowing them to stay up-to-date with the latest technology and designs while still keeping within a tighter budget. Automakers are certainly aware of this; In the luxury vehicle subcategory, many manufacturers already offer vehicles at so many different price points, often using a combination of penetration and premium pricing to attract different consumers that are seeking different types of vehicles. We also know that Millennials are leasing luxury vehicles at a greater rate than other buyers, which is likely a symptom of their desire to stay current, but also a way for them to have a more upscale vehicle than they could afford to purchase outright which allows them to maintain a more unique and luxurious lifestyle.

One example of this is a certified pre-owned vehicle ad from BMW which features a man taking extreme measures to protect and maintain his certified pre-owned BMW. The ad features a successful humor-driven strategy, but it also garnered favorable responses from viewers such as: “It shows that it’s a car worth taking care of and appreciating” and “Beautiful car and [certified pre-owned] is something to think about as I research cars for purchase.” These responses clearly show insight into the value-seeking mentality of these younger consumers. <<Click Here for BMW’s ad>> Another prime example is the recent Audi ad which features the Audi A3 E-Tron plug-in hybrid. Although this ad mostly saw success among younger viewers due to its unique, humorous creative execution, it is worth noting that consumers still took notice of potential benefits that a vehicle can offer: ex) “[the ad] stressed plug-in hybrid which means fuel savings.” This ad proves that not only are viewers more accepting to alternative fuel vehicles based on principle alone, but they are fully aware of and seek out the potential long-term savings associated with them.

Phoenix analyst Will Fetcenko notes: “Phoenix often tells clients that all consumers – Millennials, Baby Boomers, and everyone else in between – want to be informed about a vehicle’s unique, innovative, and relevant features and characteristics that ultimately convince them to purchase. But what makes many of those under the age of 46 different is that they want their vehicles to be a reflection of their unique personalities, they appreciate humorous creative pieces, and they delight in knowing that their money is going into a valuable, affordable investment.”  Automotive manufacturers and their agencies should keep these recommendations in mind when developing creative concepts intended to target younger consumers.

For the purposes of this release, Phoenix identified the younger age cohort as ranging from age 18 to 45, inclusively, which includes all “Millennials” (born approximately 1981 – 1997), some younger members of “Generation X” (1965 – 1980), and possibly even some newer drivers in “Generation Z” (1998 – present).

To view any of Phoenix Marketing International’s recent Automotive Practice reports, please follow this link: phoenixmi.com/automotive-reports/

The Automotive Division of 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 1600+ 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, Scion, Subaru, Suzuki, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo.

Phoenix Contact:

Brian Maraone/President, Phoenix Automotive

(248) 430-8042

Brian.Maraone@phoenixmi.com

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