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Optimizing the Automotive Path to Purchase

By
Perspectives | 29-11-2018
Brett House

In today’s crowded car market, auto advertisers are hard-pressed to connect with consumers, encourage new sales, and do it all under shrinking budgets. It’s a steep challenge, and one that can only be met with a full understanding of how consumers shop for cars and how they react to automotive advertising.

Our recently published Nielsen Auto Marketing Report 2018 seeks to help you meet this challenge with fascinating new insights into the automotive path to purchase and media strategy.

We’ve all seen the traditional sales funnel, with brand awareness at the top and purchase intention at the bottom. There are two big misconceptions with this view of the consumer journey.

  1. Consumers don’t have an intrinsic bias favoring one brand over the other at the start of the car buying process.
  2. The shopping process itself is a process of elimination, whereby consumers eliminate brands that don’t meet their needs one by one until a winner finally emerges.

Let’s start with the first misconception. Our research shows car buyers do, in fact, have a bias, and it comes down to their level of unaided brand awareness (i.e., how top of mind you are) of car brands.

Unaided awareness is responsible for 85% of all purchase intentions, yet only accounts for 20% of total brand awareness. The other 80% of car brand awareness is aided, which requires a prompt to jog the memory.

In fact, purchase intent conversion rates for unaided brand awareness of a brand are a whopping 25 times those of aided awareness.

It’s clear that you need to build deeper connections with consumers—not simply awareness for awareness’ sake. It takes a more media-agnostic, customer-first marketing approach to build these connections long before prospects are actively in the market for a new car.

The good news is that you have many more channels at your disposal to reach car shoppers efficiently.  You also have more and better car shopper data to guide your audience segmentation, targeting and creative decisions, not to mention the technology to automate your advertising workflow. 

And now for the second misconception: Our research shows that car shopping doesn’t follow a linear path with a consistently decreasing consideration set. The number of brands being considered actually increases the closer a person gets to a final decision.

Car shoppers start out on the path to purchase by considering two to three brands on average, but by the time they’re ready to buy they have five brands under consideration—nearly twice as many as they started with.

The fact that shoppers are considering more brands as time goes by is encouraging. It suggests that they are open to considering additional brands even while having a top of mind brand that carries a natural advantage.

The key is to develop campaigns that can deliver on both fronts: building long-term brand equity and capturing people’s attention when they’re weighing their options.

And this takes an understanding of how media flights should be sequenced based on the path to purchase: employing mass reach media like TV and radio for brand building, and transitioning to more targeted and “personalizable” media including mobile, digital and direct mail to increase purchase consideration and dealership foot traffic.

Simply put, there’s never been a better time to be an automotive marketer.

Take a deep dive into auto marketing insights like these (and many more) by downloading a copy of the Nielsen Auto Marketing Report.

Tagged:  SHOPPER  |  AUTOMOBILE  |  BRAND MARKETING  |  ADVERTISING

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