Automotive Industry Multicultural Marketing is key.
After numerous years of continued strong automotive sales in the U.S., there are questions as to whether the trend can be sustained. While there may be challenges ahead, there is an opportunity for alert auto related companies to maintain and improve their position in the market. For automotive brands, auto parts and service centers and especially the dealer associations, multicultural markets will be increasingly important to their success. Those of pay lip service or feel that their “general market” campaigns are doing enough, are doing their companies a great disservice.
For automakers, there are some clear winners. Working with multicultural markets and seeing what the automakers are doing to connect with multicultural segments, it is no surprise that Toyota and Honda’s investments have paid dividends as they are at the top among Hispanic, African-American, and Asian American car buyers for new cars.
Working with multicultural brands and agencies, it has been clear for many years that certain brands have followed the research and understand that multicultural marketing is key to reaching these key consumer segments. While $$$ invested isn’t the only factor, investment is required. Toyota which is present atop all of the new car registrations lists, consistently invests in multicultural marketing and media across all platforms and has done so for many years. Most major brands make significant investments towards African American, Hispanic and Asian American car buyers, however they do it to varying degrees.
Outside of the major brands however, there are key opportunities that are being missed by other automotive related enterprises.
- Auto Dealers: One of the groups that needs to be the most in tune with their community. Many dealership groups, especially those located within strong multicultural communities invest and have seen the benefits. If your dealership is in California, Texas, Florida, it is obvious, however many times for areas that have been changing, some dealership groups are still adjusting their tactics to meet the community.
- Auto Parts / Auto Repair / Tires etc.: Beyond traditional advertising (billboards, radio, TV) many of these show significantly less initiative in their multicultural marketing efforts. Whether due to smaller budgets, less information, or less interest, these regional players may have the most to gain by reaching out to their communities. While local store owners likely see the changing communities, are they getting the support from the brands marketing departments. Major parts stores (Autozone etc.) as well as major tire brands (Bridgestone etc.) have shown some limited interest in multicultural advertising, but this does not seem to be at levels that match the changes in the community.
- Finance / Insurance: Banks, financial institutions, as well as insurance companies are also present in varying degrees. Whether the automotive brand financing or working with community or national banks, financing and insurance are going to be key beneficiaries, IF they actively market to these communities and many are not.
Even in California, while most auto dealership groups truly reach out to their diverse communities, for many auto related retailers, the outreach to the Hispanic community for example seems limited to the same general market campaign but maybe buying some local media. In some communities, if they are the only player, it may not matter but if you own an AutoZone store and O’Reilly AutoParts moves in next door, then suddenly the importance of connecting with the community will become apparent.
In a state like Michigan, not traditionally known as the most diverse state, there is a developing multicultural consumer. The African American community is well known in the states urban areas, and the Arab American community is significant in the Dearborn area for example. Yet while Hispanics are a small percentage of the state population, they represent 15% of the population in Grand Rapids. And overall much of the state’s growth is due to an increase in the Asian and Hispanic communities. The question is, how long will it take for the brand marketing department to realize its importance. Most likely, the local owners will see these changes first, and a big questions will be if they can get the support that they need to create strong multicultural marketing programs.
Each area will have its own story and those businesses and owners who pay attention and invest in multicultural marketing, will see the benefits. Those who continue with the same strategies will not. When the economy is strong it seems that everyone wins, however when there are hiccups, these relationships take on even more importance over the longer term and should not be ignored.
Continued reading: Learn how Dealerships are Reaching Hispanic Car Buyers