Detroit, MI – Phoenix Marketing International (PMI), a Honomichl Top-50 market research firm, reported findings from its recent Affluent Auto Tracker study. The study explores attitudinal, behavioral, and perceptual factors that influence automotive purchase intentions among affluent US households. 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 this study.
Although high-end brands and exotics such as Bentley and Lamborghini received some of the highest marks for brand impression, the more mainstream brands such as BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes were also held in high regard among affluent respondents; among them Mercedes received the highest ratings on brand impression. However, German and Japanese rivals BMW and Lexus were the brands most highly rated overall for purchase consideration. Audi and Infiniti also had a strong showing closing in on their historically more popular competitors.
Phoenix Senior Research Analyst Kevin Severance adds, “We’ve also seen a lot of buzz building around Audi in particular over the past year or so in our general market Automotive Brand and Advertising Audit. Through its advertising, Audi has been gaining momentum by communicating a unique sense of luxury, style, and performance to differentiate it from other brands. So far from what we’ve observed, it’s working.”
In addition to shifts in brand perception, other findings from Phoenix’s Affluent Auto Tracker indicate shifts in how higher-income consumers perceive the foreseeable future as it relates to their spending habits. According to Phoenix’s results, affluent households largely feel individual economic conditions won’t change drastically over the next six months compared to how they have fared during the last six months; 84% believe their individual conditions will be about the same or improve, and 16% feel they will be worse off through the first half of 2013 than they were for the second half of 2012 (a slightly increased percentage of +4%). Despite the somewhat stagnant outlook on the individual level, affluent segments are more optimistic that economic and business conditions will be “better off” over the next six months (+8%) than they have been in the previous six. Moreover, 25% of affluent households reported increasing their discretionary spending during the previous 6 months before participating in the study.
Severance concludes, “We’ve seen in other Phoenix research that brand reputation plays a significant role in driving purchase decisions in the luxury automotive market. Increased discretionary spending among affluent households and projected growth of the automotive market mean there might be more luxury consumers to win, but luxury automakers must keep a close eye on the market in order to adapt to changes in brand perception and consumer tastes.”