A recent research done by Kantar Media shows that automakers’ marketing messages have been changed since the European auto market began to shrink.
Since the beginning of 2012, automakers’ marketing messages have changed from brand-focused campaigns to commercials focused on how specific features benefit drivers. Before the debt crisis hit Europe, auto campaigns emphasized the driving experience and the brand image. Now automakers struggle to convince customers that a specific vehicle offers drivers something they need at a better price compared with other models.
“Brands have become more specific about the features they communicate,” Kantar Media analyst Solenne Faure said. “They also want to show that car technologies are not too complicated and are affordable.”
According to Kantar Media there are four main campaign themes which reflect these changes. The first one is the Auto Techno theme, where automakers emphasize the vehicle’s technology features such as a quiet engine, low gasoline consumption or extremely low CO2 emissions, as stated on Citroen’s C1 print ad.
The second theme is the Auto Electro/Robot, which automakers use to tout technologies that are often robotically controlled, such as parking sensors. Such an ad would be the one for VW Tiguan, which shows how the vehicle’s Park Assist can allow the SUV to slip into a tight space.
The third theme, Auto Eco, is used by car makers to show how their cars were manufactured to match the good societal values, such as environmental awareness. The best example for this is Renault’s ad where the Kangoo, Fluence and Twizy EVs are displayed next to a fuel station, something these cars don’t need.
Auto Ego, is the fourth theme, where vehicles are presented as an extension of the driver’s self, focusing on specific features and not the brand. The ad which reflects the driver’s individual connection to the vehicle is Peugeot’s Let Your Body Drive campaign for the 208 model.
“The link between the car and the driver is more structured than it was in the past and automotive communications show this,” Faure said. “A car is no longer just an object that you purchase every four to five years.”