Automakers Must Get 'Emotional' to Sell to Minorities

Consultant Says Understanding Motivation to Buy Key to Sales

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Auto marketers need to understand the "emotional payoff" of each of their vehicles to multicultural communities if they want to sell more vehicles and improve loyalty among Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans in the U.S., according to auto consultancy Strategic Vision.
According to Strategic Vision's annual survey of 100,000 new-car buyers in 2007, African-Americans were five times more likely to buy a Chrysler 300 sedan than other ethnic groups.
According to Strategic Vision's annual survey of 100,000 new-car buyers in 2007, African-Americans were five times more likely to buy a Chrysler 300 sedan than other ethnic groups.

Alexander Edwards, president of Strategic Vision's automotive arm, told Advertising Age he is readying the release of an annual survey of 100,000 new-car buyers in 2007, 27,000 of whom were Hispanic, African-American and Asian-American.

Traits between ethnic groups
Strategic Vision found that Latinos look for an enhanced sense of security; blacks are more attracted to models that reflect the success in their lives and express their individuality; and Asian-Americans showed stronger interest in balanced, complete vehicle performance and style to match their lives.

Strategic Vision often works with multicultural ad agencies to "help them understand what motivates people to buy," Mr. Edwards said.

Hispanic car buyers ranked the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan the strongest model in the luxury segment, followed by Infiniti's G25, and the Kia Sedona minivan, Ford Expedition and Scion Xb in the more affordable category.

He said marketers at Chrysler's Dodge brand "can do more with Latino buyers" by dialing up security and safety messages in communications.

Intriguing findings
Among Strategic Vision's most intriguing findings: African-Americans were five times more likely to buy a Chrysler 300 sedan than other ethnic groups. That's why, Mr. Edwards said, 2% of all vehicles sold in the U.S. to African Americans are Chrysler 300s, he said. African-Americans are four times more likely to buy a Nissan Altima than other groups.

The industry is releasing their 2007 sales data today and tomorrow, but experts have projected automakers would sell roughly 16 million new cars and trucks this year in the U.S. Still, that total includes fleet sales to rental companies, government and small businesses.

The top three models bought by Asian-Americans last year were the Toyota Camry, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla respectively.

Mr. Edwards said the research shows Asian-Americans are "almost outright rejecting Ford," so the automaker "clearly has some work to do with the Asians."
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