The way different populations shop within any given market is, in large part, culturally inspired, and the U.S. automotive industry is no exception. As such, auto marketers need to be knowledgeable and considerate of the varying factors that influence individual communities when they’re looking for their next vehicles.
Currently, 40% of the U.S. population is multicultural. That figure is expected to jump to 50% within 25 years, which means that auto marketers should be updating their strategies to ensure they effectively engage these audiences.
According to the Selig Center for Economic Growth, 2019 total U.S. buying power across multicultural groups was almost $3 trillion, and is expected to grow to $3.9 trillion by 2024.
In order to successfully overcome current industry challenges and restore growth, it’s essential for automakers to win multicultural business.
To help auto marketers in this pursuit, Nielsen recently published its Annual Auto Marketing Report, which affirms that reaching multicultural customers in an authentic way starts with auto brands’ advertising plans.
In order to maximize their impact on their target demographic groups, auto marketers must tailor their messaging to speak to the preferences of these unique audiences.
When devising their advertising plans, marketers should keep the following two key strategies in mind to successfully connect with multicultural consumers.
The report—which is based on thousands of surveys to auto intenders conducted by Nielsen every quarter since 2012—reveals that, compared to the general U.S. population, Hispanic, Black and Asian Americans have 10-20% lower top-of-mind (unaided) auto brand awareness than the general population.
This variance is because brands have not made themselves relevant to these consumer groups. While some marketers may view this lower awareness as an obstacle, it can actually be an opportunity to curate these audiences’ brand perceptions, because multicultural consumers are open to being influenced.
The goal in this initial awareness phase shouldn’t necessarily be to secure an immediate sale, but rather to connect so that audiences remember the brand long past their first view of the advertisement.
This distinction is especially important because investing in a car may not be the top priority for many consumers at the moment. Therefore, it’s critical for brands to establish themselves as a prime option for whenever individuals are ready to make a purchase.
It’s crucial for auto marketers to be conscious of and sensitive to the realities consumers are currently experiencing, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Communications going out into today’s world need to be thoughtfully adjusted to draw consumers in, instead of unintentionally pushing them away.
Fortunately for auto marketers, the number of brands considered by consumers rises as they near a purchase, meaning that, even if a brand isn’t top-of-mind to consumers prior to shopping, there’s still ample chance for that brand to be a contender in the final selection.
Looking at multicultural car buyers, Hispanic and Black consumers actually tend to consider more brands throughout their vehicle search than Asian Americans and non-Hispanic Whites (six to seven brands, versus four to five brands, respectively), which further increases the odds of advertising influencing these audiences.
In fact, four of the six brands eventually considered by Black and Hispanic consumers by the time of purchase are those that were not top-of-mind at the outset of their car shopping journey. As such, ads to these consumers should not assume prior brand familiarity.
Getting messages to resonate also requires sensitivity, since multicultural consumers have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important for brands to be empathetic to the realities consumers are facing when making new connections.
Additionally, to make a meaningful impression on multicultural prospects, marketers need to consider where these audiences are spending their time. TV functions as the top source of recall for auto brands across all groups, but nuances exist from there.
While Hispanics are two times better than other demographic groups at recalling car ads they see online, Asian Americans recall more car ads in print than any other multicultural group.
Black car shoppers are attentive to ads across all channels, and also have the highest ad recall for car ads on the radio. Incorporating these small yet significant differences into media plans can help optimize campaigns.
Every successful marketing strategy starts with a thorough understanding of a brand’s prospects—car buyers included. When researching and purchasing new vehicles, multicultural consumers exercise unique, nuanced behaviors that marketers need to understand to secure their business.
As populations grow, multicultural groups will possess increasing purchasing power, and so the ways marketers advertise to these consumers today has the potential to forge meaningful connections that will yield sales for years to come.
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