By Julie A. Enzweiler, Automotive – Research Director
One might assume that the unemployment rate at a state level would show a strong negative correlation to the likelihood to purchase a vehicle in the next six months, but this doesn't appear to be the case. Michigan had the highest unemployment rate at 11.6% in January 2009; however, these residents are slightly over-indexing for the likeliness to purchase a vehicle in the next six months. It's very interesting that Mississippi is the most likely state to purchase a vehicle and Idaho is the least likely, since both states fall in the middle of the heap for unemployment.
Solely looking at shopping intention by state is too high of a level to glean any actionable insight. However, coupling intention with current vehicle ownership allows for smarter inventory planning and target marketing within each state. Typically, we would be a bit more aggressive and aim to conquest more sales, but in the current economic condition we need to be more cognizant of advertising expenditures and ensure a high ROI.
In 2009 it will be imperative that automakers focus on the total customer experience of existing owners and consider developing loyalty programs. It is much easier and cheaper to retain an owner than it is to make a conquest from a competing brand. Nielsen @Plan data is indicating that Oklahoma residents are the second most likely to purchase a vehicle in the next six months and are also over-indexing on owning a Kia vehicle and Compact Sedans/Coupes. There appears to be an opportunity for Kia to gain additional market share within Oklahoma especially with the Optima and Spectra. Lincoln also has an opportunity in Mississippi with an ownership index of 286, while Chrysler may want to reduce their ad spend in this state and shift focus to areas that have a higher concentration of Chrysler owners such as Iowa, Kentucky and Michigan.