Recent Research on Affluent Automotive Consumers Finds They Are Driven by More than the Promise of Luxury

Phoenix Marketing International’s Affluent Auto Tracker: Influences, Motivations, and Perceptions Behind Automotive Purchase Decisions of the Affluent

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Detroit, MI (PRWEB) April 10, 2013

Findings from Phoenix Marketing International’s most recent Affluent Auto Tracker have just become available. Through the study, researchers at PMI, a top U.S. market research firm, explore attitudinal, behavioral, and perceptual factors that influence automotive purchase intentions among affluent US households (levels of affluence determined by a combination of annual household income and measure of investable assets). Economic outlook, purchase behavior, and views on technological progress and environmental changes are also investigated in an effort to pinpoint what drives spending decisions in high-income households. The study also underscores the differences between high-end luxury automotive brands and how they fare in the minds of affluent consumers.

Familiar luxury marques like BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes, high end luxury brands such as Rolls-Royce and Bentley, in addition to some newcomers to the market, Tesla and Fisker (full brand list at the end of the release), were covered in the study.

Phoenix’s latest findings confirm that affluent automotive purchase intenders are comprised of a diverse group of consumers; especially when it comes to how they spend their money and their attitudes on the environment, technology, personal image, and car brands. Psychographic segmentation of Phoenix’s data produced two groups based on respondents’ financial objectives. The first group, Growers, was made up of those whose primary financial goal is to aggressively grow wealth, protect current level of wealth, minimize taxes, improve household cash flow, or better manage risk. The primary financial goals of the second group, Planners, are to assure a comfortable standard of living in retirement, leave an estate for their heirs, give charitably, or finance college education. Differences in financial objectives elicited differences in attitudes.

Over a third of both Growers and Planners felt strongly that companies should pay more attention to environmental issues. However, Growers’ attitudes on the environment at the individual level clearly differ from Planners: Growers are significantly more likely to consider vehicle brands that offer alternative fueled vehicles, to agree that their purchase decisions are impacted by a company’s environmental record, and to give up convenience in return for environmentally friendly products. In short, Growers tend to be more environmentally conscious.

Broad attitudes about technology were somewhat similar between the two groups, but deeper digging revealed differences in how technology is used. Almost half of all those interviewed felt very strongly that technology is good for society as a whole, and over 30% of all respondents agreed that they are very much willing to spend more for top quality electronics. Growers, though, were significantly more likely to want others to be impressed with the technology they use. This further signals some the differences between how Growers and Planners who are in the market for autos feel about spending money, about vehicles, and about lifestyle in general.

Planners’ willingness to incur debt for short term gratification was significantly lower than Growers. They were also significantly less likely to consider a luxury vehicle a symbol of their success, to want a vehicle that is bold and stands out, or to place importance on the prestige/reputation associated with the brand. Although both groups were willing to consider BMW more than any other luxury brand, Growers tended to favor the edgier Audi next, while Planners favored Lexus.

The Phoenix Automotive Practice concludes that not all affluent automotive share identical beliefs and desires, and differences in financial goals as well as attitudes about the environment, technology, spending, and vehicles mean there are different approaches to making your luxury brand appeal to an affluent target. As Phoenix Analyst Kevin Severance notes, “Some affluent consumers want to live ‘in the now.’ They want to convey a bold image and believe their choice in vehicle reflects that. Others are still more conservative and prefer function over form. They definitely want quality, value, and luxury, but they want the best and not necessarily the latest and greatest just for the sake of it.”

Data for the Affluent Auto Tracker were collected in December 2012 and the following brands were included in the study: Acura, Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Bugatti, Cadillac, Ferrari, Fisker, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Maserati, Maybach, Mercedes, Porsche, Rolls Royce, and Tesla.


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  • John Schiela
    Phoenix Marketing International
    215-392-0264
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