How Multi-Ethnic and African American Car Shoppers Pick Car Brands

Nielsen released its Annual Auto Marketing Report, which examines how shoppers from various ethnic and racial backgrounds differ from the general car-buying population in terms of brand awareness, brand consideration and advertising recall. The study aims to help auto marketers understand how to better engage multicultural consumers.

TV stands out as major source of of knowledge.

When consumers who saw a recent ad for an auto brand are asked to pinpoint where they saw that ad, 84% of them say they saw it on TV. Print11 is a distant second (29% of responses), followed by digital12 and radio [see figure 3: TV IS THE TOP SOURCE OF RECALL FOR CAR ADS ACROSS ALL GROUPS]. TV isn’t as dominant on the recall scale for Hispanic, Black and Asian American car shoppers, but it still generally outperforms other advertising channels by at least a factor of two

According to the report, vehicle shoppers from multicultural groups tend to be aware of fewer brands, but ultimately consider more options on the path-to-purchase than the general population. This means that auto marketers have more opportunities to engage these audiences over time, which is critical for a COVID-19 recovery. The report’s data was collected from the Nielsen Auto Path-to-Purchase series during a pre-pandemic time period when the U.S. auto industry was already confronting growth challenges. So, while much has changed, the findings layered in with insights from the current crisis are more important than ever as the auto industry devises recovery strategies.

Multicultural consumers follow a unique and distinct path-to-purchase when it comes to buying new vehicles. Nielsen’s data found that:

  • Consumers from multicultural groups – Hispanic, Black and Asian American – are aware of 10-20% fewer car brands than the general U.S. population. Automotive brands are less top-of-mind for multicultural consumers, and there is an imperative for marketers to close that gap because most purchase decisions can be traced back to brands that consumers already have in mind before starting out on the path-to-purchase.
  • But when purchasing a vehicle, Hispanic and Black shoppers consider six to seven brands by the time they’re ready to buy. This represents two more brands compared to Asian Americans and non-Hispanic Whites. Hispanic and Black shoppers are more receptive to advertising efforts even if a brand wasn’t top-of-mind in the first place.
  • Omnichannel advertising is essential for reaching multicultural consumers. Hispanic car shoppers, for instance, tend to be young and connected, and their level of recall for ads they see digitally is unmatched. Asian Americans respond better than others to print advertising. And Black consumers are receptive to vehicle advertising across a greater variety of channels.

“Media budgets are scrutinized even on a good day, and in the current landscape, that pressure is increased dramatically. Investing in your multicultural consumers today by communicating more effectively offers a unique opportunity for auto marketers to optimize outcomes in a challenging environment,” said Paula Skier, Vice President and Automotive Industry Lead at Nielsen. “To set the stage for success, marketers must be sensitive to the current realities and make the most out of multicultural consumers’ media preferences. By measuring the effectiveness of their campaigns, marketers can use that data to inform strategy and adjust the marketing mix along the way.”

The data in this report is based on more than 250,000 online surveys, conducted by Nielsen starting in 2012, to prospective automotive buyers in the U.S. Data for this report covers Q1 2018-Q2 2019