Sunday, February 12, 2017

Auto Marketers: 3 things that matter the most to car shoppers

As an auto executive, you realize the extremely competitive nature of auto market and the need to differentiate your brand. Thus, knowing what your target audience cares about the most becomes a key. As a graduate student at Northwestern University with a passion in auto marketing research, I found two articles that some top features that matter to today’s car shoppers. 

In Joseph’s article Car Shopper Preference Survey: Quality and Dependability Trump Fuel Economy posted on NADA Used Car Guide he does a detailed analysis on the key features that car shoppers value the most. From a marketing researcher’s perspective, he explains his research methodology and provides graphics to help illustrate his points. Also, instead of giving us a overall picture, he dig into different car categories because based on his data, customers from different categories usually have different preference.

In Jim’s article TheMost-Wanted New-Car Features posted on Forbeshe cites a survey from AutoPacific and a interview from one of the industry influencers as well. According to Jim, new car shoppers pay much attention to the car’s basic features, such as power driver’s seats, and heated front seats, instead of those high-tech features people talk about all the time. While car brands are investing millions of dollars on advertising that demonstrate all the cutting edge technologies, what eventually drives customers to make the decisions may be the most detailed and basic features.

After reading these two articles wrote by expert in the auto industry, and combine my learning as a marketer at Northwestern University, I have three recommendations that you should consider when you are making marketing effort to approach the new car shoppers.

    • Segmentation matters - Different customers have different use for their vehicle, thus have very different priority and needs for features.
    • Reliability is key - Compared to innovation and technology, people value reliability and performance much more.

    • Focus on detail - Customers not only look at the performance and handling, but also the holistic driving experiences, since most of the top features are not directly to driving.

A successful market in the auto industry must not only pay attention to detail and basic features that customers value, but also deliver this message to the target market in a efficient way as well. 

Jesse Zeng is a passionate marketer with strong interest in marketing research. He is currently a student at Northwestern University studying Integrated Marketing Communication (graduating in Dec 2017).

He can be reached at or on Linkedin

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