Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Of "Clown Cars" and CAFE standards - A tuff sell

G-Wiz (covered In TreeHugger here) is the quintessential London car — it runs on battery power, reaches 40 mph and goes for 40 miles on a 50 pence charge. Caption & Image Credit: TreeHugger

Of "Clown Cars" and CAFE standards - A tuff sell

Tightening CAFE standards may force smaller cars on US car buyers who are not inclined to downsize.

“Our research shows that, despite what the U.S. Government is telling us, few Americans want to downsize to smaller cars,” says George Peterson, President of AutoPacific, a future-oriented automotive marketing research and product-consulting firm, “Finding more buyers inclined to purchase smaller cars will not be easy.”

For years, the US automobile industry has relied heavily on analyzing demographic factors in order to segment the marketplace, and sell consumers vehicles with different characteristics. Traditional socio-demographic targeting using variables such as sex, age, education or income, has been the norm. While many manufacturers have tried to create independent systems for segmenting the market, the results are often short-lived, and lack a global perspective in an industry that clearly must design and sell vehicles on a global level.

"As automotive researchers, we [AutoPacific] have often found that the segmentation tools being used by our clients often only last a few years, and are not portable to other markets,” continued George Peterson, “This constant change, has made it difficult for global manufacturers to indentify the true motivators behind vehicle sales, and keep their focus necessary to sell vehicles successfully on global level.”

“We have identified nine social Milieus – or consumer psychographic segments – that can help us understand which US car buyers will have an easier time embracing smaller vehicles as many buyers do in Europe,” says Carsten Ascheberg, Managing Director at SIGMA, a global consulting firm based in Mannheim, Germany. “By combining AutoPacfiic’s trademarked Research Suite database of 32,000 new car Buyers, and SIGMA’s trademarked Social Milieu approach the resulting data and analysis offers model level insights into the true purchase motivators of US Car Buyers, and allows this understanding to have an impact on the global plans for our clients.
The all electric Honda EV-N - Want a small, cheap plug-in vehicle for your daily commuting? I'm guessing that's the vision behind the Honda EV-N concept. If this is the future of the automobile, that future probably won't be built in America, I'm guessing. By the time we get it, it'll be too late. Is America's auto culture, though proud and historic, killing the US auto industry? [Response - No, it's the CAFE standards built upon disgarded, manipulated, corrupted, and shaped data supplied by scientists at the CRU - Google "Climategate"] Caption & Image Credit:

The AutoPacific/SIGMA research shows that small car considerers are much more likely to be of the “Affluent Progressives” Milieu, than any of the other eight Milieus. Affluent Progressives are conscientious consumers who are upscale and well off and base much of their purchase decisions on the brand or product’s role towards promoting the greater good … as well as catering to his or her own emotional needs.

By targeting this group in product design and marketing, manufacturers will have a much better chance of moving Americans into smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. Additionally, these Milieus can be used to help manufacturers more accurately target features for future vehicles by determining which Milieus will be most receptive to certain automotive features.”

“Today, more than ever before, brand preferences and purchase decisions are influenced by each individual’s personality, values and attitude towards life: You buy what you can identify with. Furthermore, these values and attitudes, do not change overnight.,” says Carsten Ascheberg. In 2005, the Wall Street Journal covered how SIGMA used this approach to help BMW re-align its brand and launch the highly successful MINI brand worldwide. “We are seeing the seeds of a similar revolution possible in the US market.”

The SIGMA Milieus reflect the psychological predisposition of customers and link them to the acceptance or rejection of products and makes. Not only have the various Milieus remained stable over time, but also they have proven to be highly selective. The consumer cultures that are defined by the Milieus can be found the world over, giving this research global implications for automakers.

The union of AutoPacific’s trademarked Research Suite database, which was developed in 1993 and is used by manufacturers and tier one suppliers to understand the US car buying population, in conjunction with SIGMA’s trademarked global Social Milieu approach, developed in 1980, the resulting understanding of target buyers and their future intentions with regards to brands, segments and features is uniquely powerful.
(ht: Dan Hall, AutoPacific)

... notes from The EDJE

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