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We Are What We Drive - US - April 2009

This report explores the consumer behavior of six specific consumer groups. Specific questions that are answered in this report include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • What kind of vehicle do you own or lease?
  • Which of the following is most helpful when you are trying to make a decision of what car or truck to purchase or lease?
  • Where did you purchase or lease your last car/truck?
  • Which of the following is most important to you in relation to the last car you bought or leased?
  • Which reason do you use your car or truck for most often?

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Data sources
        • Consumer survey data
          • Abbreviations and terms
            • Abbreviations
              • Terms
              • Executive Summary

                • Price is the top consumer group concern, yet perceptions are different
                  • Consumers break down vehicle costs between short and long term
                    • SUVs, large cars continue to dominate, compacts still have room to grow
                      • Opportunities exist for SUVs, trucks for the College Student market
                        • Consumer groups overwhelmingly prefer purchasing cars at dealerships
                          • Shopping/running errands and commuting to work top activity rates
                          • Insights and Opportunities

                            • Branded onboard computer systems for families can promote large cars
                              • Turning green messages into personal advocacy can speak to recession
                                • Make online video more relevant for consumer research, interaction
                                • Inspire Insights

                                    • Trend: Alpha Moms
                                      • Moms are no longer allowing themselves to be solely defined by family role
                                        • Suburban moms shunning minivans, determined to remain an individual
                                          • Trend: Brand Experience
                                            • Brand differentiation is created by channeling brand into experiences
                                              • Automakers can target niche consumers by creating experiences
                                              • Suburban Parents

                                                • Key points
                                                  • Large trucks, SUVs more preferred by Suburban Parents than singles
                                                    • Figure 1: Types of vehicles owned, by suburban parenthood, February 2009
                                                  • Suburban Parents overwhelmingly prefer purchasing cars at dealerships
                                                    • Figure 2: Where last car/truck was bought/leased, by suburban parenthood, February 2009
                                                  • Suburban Parents less likely to have one-on-one link with mechanic
                                                    • Figure 3: Most helpful sources when deciding on car or truck to buy, by suburban parenthood, February 2009
                                                  • Price rules regardless of children; parents value safety in higher numbers
                                                      • Figure 4: Most important features when deciding on car or truck to buy, by suburban parenthood, February 2009
                                                    • Suburban Parents use vehicle to integrate practical activities of daily life
                                                        • Figure 5: Main use of car or truck, by suburban parenthood, February 2009
                                                    • College Students

                                                      • Key points
                                                        • College Students value compacts more so than overall respondents
                                                            • Figure 6: Types of vehicles owned, by college enrollment, February 2009
                                                          • College Students more active buying from private parties, rental outlets
                                                            • Figure 7: Where last car/truck was bought/leased, by college enrollment, February 2009
                                                          • College Students more likely to listen to family, peers than general buyers
                                                            • Figure 8: Most helpful sources when deciding on car or truck to buy, by college enrollment, February 2009
                                                          • College Students value price, performance in almost equal rates
                                                            • Figure 9: Most important features when deciding on car or truck to buy, by college enrollment, February 2009
                                                          • College Students use their vehicles primarily for practical purposes
                                                            • Figure 10: Main use of car or truck, by college enrollment, February 2009
                                                        • Environmental Advocates

                                                          • Key points
                                                            • Who are Environmental Advocates?
                                                              • Environmentalism not necessarily transferring to compacts first, SUVs last
                                                                  • Figure 11: Types of vehicles owned, by environmental interest, February 2009
                                                                • Environmental Advocates prefer car dealerships for new car purchasing
                                                                  • Figure 12: Where last car/truck was bought/leased, by environmental interest, February 2009
                                                                • About half of Environmental Advocates personally research before purchase
                                                                  • Figure 13: Most helpful sources when deciding on car or truck to buy, by environmental interest, February 2009
                                                                • Environmental Advocates rate new car price, fuel efficiency as similar concerns
                                                                    • Figure 14: Most important features when deciding on car or truck to buy, by environmental interest, February 2009
                                                                  • Environmental Advocates road commuting to work more than general respondents
                                                                    • Figure 15: Main use of car or truck, by environmental interest, February 2009
                                                                • American Pride

                                                                  • Key points
                                                                    • Who are consumers with American Pride?
                                                                      • American Pride is reflected the most by large trucks, SUVs, not compacts
                                                                          • Figure 16: Types of vehicles owned, by American Pride, February 2009
                                                                        • American Pride respondents found primarily at branded car dealerships
                                                                          • Figure 17: Where last car/truck was bought/leased, by American Pride, February 2009
                                                                        • American Pride respondents more influenced by personal recommenders
                                                                          • Figure 18: Most helpful sources when deciding on car or truck to buy, by American Pride, February 2009
                                                                        • Economy fears translate mainly to sticker price, less to fuel economy
                                                                          • Figure 19: Most important features when deciding on car or truck to buy, by American Pride, February 2009
                                                                        • Shopping, running errands tops activity list of American Pride respondents
                                                                            • Figure 20: Main use of car or truck, by American Pride, February 2009
                                                                        • Empty Nesters

                                                                          • Key points
                                                                            • Who are Empty Nesters?
                                                                              • Empty Nesters continue to drive larger vehicles, but shun minivans
                                                                                  • Figure 21: Types of vehicles owned, by grown children in home, February 2009
                                                                                • Empty Nesters make new vehicle purchases mainly at auto dealerships
                                                                                  • Figure 22: Where last car/truck was bought/leased, by grown children in home, February 2009
                                                                                • Half of Empty Nesters conduct personal research before vehicle purchase
                                                                                  • Figure 23: Most helpful sources when deciding on car or truck to buy, by grown children in home, February 2009
                                                                                • Empty Nesters are concerned over sticker price, but performance rules too
                                                                                  • Figure 24: Most important features when deciding on car or truck to buy, by grown children in home, February 2009
                                                                                • Empty Nesters use their vehicles primarily for shopping, less for commutes
                                                                                    • Figure 25: Main use of car or truck, by grown children in home, February 2009
                                                                                • Urbanites

                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                    • Who are Urbanites?
                                                                                      • Urban dwellers more likely to drive mid-size or compacts than large cars
                                                                                          • Figure 26: Types of vehicles owned, by urban and non-urban, February 2009
                                                                                        • Urbanites prefer car dealerships, but more active at auto malls than peers
                                                                                            • Figure 27: Where last car/truck was bought/leased, by urban and non-urban, February 2009
                                                                                          • Urbanites are more active in word-of-mouth vehicle recommendations
                                                                                              • Figure 28: Most helpful sources when deciding on car or truck to buy, by urban and non-urban, February 2009
                                                                                            • Urbanites show greater concern for fuel, safety, performance than peers
                                                                                                • Figure 29: Most important features when deciding on car or truck to buy, by urban and non-urban, February 2009
                                                                                              • Urbanites value vehicles for special occasions requiring long distances
                                                                                                • Figure 30: Main use of car or truck, by urban and non-urban, February 2009
                                                                                            • Brand Qualities

                                                                                              • Subaru Outback promoted with environmental edge to urban dwellers
                                                                                                • Marketing with an environmental edge
                                                                                                  • Continual facelifts keep it contemporary
                                                                                                    • Volkswagen’s diesel Jetta buoyed by emphasis on trendsetting appeal
                                                                                                    • Innovation and Innovators

                                                                                                      • AutoNation’s online car-buying initiative targets suburban mothers
                                                                                                        • Chrysler generates patriotism by targeting military veterans, families
                                                                                                          • MINI rooftop parties create connectivity between vehicle, Urbanites
                                                                                                          • Advertising and Promotion

                                                                                                            • Overview
                                                                                                              • Online outreach among top automakers is in decline
                                                                                                                • Carmakers spending more to advertise SUVs than hybrids online
                                                                                                                  • Ford spending most online; automakers represent 58% of total ad impressions in January
                                                                                                                    • Figure 31: Top advertisers among auto manufacturers, by total display ad impressions, January 2009
                                                                                                                  • Ford reaching out more to consumers through sports promotions
                                                                                                                    • Subaru targeting environment-minded consumers through animal rights
                                                                                                                      • Analysis of television commercials
                                                                                                                        • Vehicles targeting urban singles portrayed as portals for excitement, danger
                                                                                                                          • Figure 32: Volvo ad, 2009
                                                                                                                          • Figure 33: Jeep Cherokee ad, 2009
                                                                                                                          • Figure 34: Ford Fusion ad, 2009
                                                                                                                          • Figure 35: Chrysler 300 ad, 2009
                                                                                                                        • Spots targeting suburban moms, couples balance gender stereotypes, fantasy
                                                                                                                          • Figure 36: Cadillac Escalade ad, 2009
                                                                                                                          • Figure 37: Chevy Equinox ad, 2009
                                                                                                                          • Figure 38: Ford Edge ad, 2009
                                                                                                                        • Environmentalists respond to components that are good for them, good for the earth
                                                                                                                          • Figure 39: Ford Escape ad, 2008
                                                                                                                      • Cluster Analysis

                                                                                                                          • Pluralists
                                                                                                                            • Who they are
                                                                                                                              • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                • Truckers
                                                                                                                                  • Who they are
                                                                                                                                    • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                      • Middies
                                                                                                                                        • Who they are
                                                                                                                                          • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                            • Cluster characteristics
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 40: What we drive clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 41: Types of vehicles owned, by what we drive clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 42: Where last car/truck was bought/leased, by what we drive clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 43: Most helpful sources when deciding on car or truck to buy, by what we drive clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 44: Most important features when deciding on car or truck to buy, by what we drive clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 45: Main use of car or truck, by what we drive clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 46: American Pride, by what we drive clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                                                            • Cluster demographics
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 47: What we drive clusters, by gender, February 2009
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 48: What we drive clusters, by age, February 2009
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 49: What we drive clusters, by income, February 2009
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 50: What we drive clusters, by race, February 2009
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 51: What we drive clusters, by Hispanic origin, February 2009
                                                                                                                                            • Cluster methodology
                                                                                                                                            • Appendix: Trade Associations

                                                                                                                                              Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                              • AB Volvo
                                                                                                                                              • American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
                                                                                                                                              • Audi of America Inc
                                                                                                                                              • Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG)
                                                                                                                                              • AutoNation, Inc.
                                                                                                                                              • BMW of North America, LLC
                                                                                                                                              • Chrysler LLC
                                                                                                                                              • Facebook, Inc.
                                                                                                                                              • Ford Motor Company (USA)
                                                                                                                                              • General Motors Corporation
                                                                                                                                              • Greenfield Online
                                                                                                                                              • Hyundai Motor America
                                                                                                                                              • Jaguar Cars North America
                                                                                                                                              • Kia Motors America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                              • Mazda North American Operations
                                                                                                                                              • Mercedes-Benz USA
                                                                                                                                              • Microsoft USA
                                                                                                                                              • Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                              • National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR)
                                                                                                                                              • National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)
                                                                                                                                              • Porsche Cars North America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                              • Starbucks Corporation
                                                                                                                                              • Subaru of America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                              • Toyota Motor Corporation USA
                                                                                                                                              • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
                                                                                                                                              • Volkswagen of America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                              • Walmart Stores (USA)
                                                                                                                                              • YouTube, Inc.

                                                                                                                                              We Are What We Drive - US - April 2009

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