You like your car – but did you “like” it on Facebook? We looked at 23 major car brands and their 114 million American Facebook fans to uncover trends in fan demographics, political orientations, and career paths. Which brands have the most fans? Do more Facebook fans translate into accelerated sales? How do companies’ marketing efforts impact consumer perceptions – and prompt users to click “like”? Check out our findings below.
The Most Popular Car Brands on Facebook
Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Ferrari occupy the top three spots. It’s interesting to compare Facebook fan numbers with sales: First-place Mercedes-Benz, with an impressive 19.4 million Facebook fans, sold more than 1.7 million vehicles in 2014. Tenth-place Jeep, with 4.7 million Facebook fans, sold more than 1 million vehicles worldwide. Ford did not make the top 10 list with its 3.1 million Facebook fans, but it sold more than 6.3 million vehicles worldwide.
Perhaps this is simply a case of Facebook users dreaming of buying high-end luxury cars (and clicking “like”) while pragmatically purchasing more budget-friendly models. However, it is worth noting that in the U.S., high-end luxury vehicles sales are the fastest-growing segment.
Another explanation for the disparities simply lies in the strength of various companies’ social media strategies. Mercedes is known for its groundbreaking social media campaigns, as are BMW and Ferrari. In an age where 84% of car buyers are on Facebook, these companies clearly grasp the importance of social media.
The Top Car Brands
If your grandpa drives a Chrysler, your friend from the IT department drives a Tesla, and your active-duty military neighbor drives a Jeep, you won’t be surprised by some of these facts. However, many of the tidbits are more intriguing: What is it about Kia that appeals to Android users? Why do married people gravitate toward Ford? And why do so many teen drivers “like” Dodge on Facebook?
College graduate program, has the most grad student fans. Land Rover, with the most African-American fans, works hard to appeal to African-Americans. And Chevrolet, which claims the most Hispanic fans, is open about its commitment to targeting Hispanic buyers through advertising. While there is room for interpretation about ad sentiment, brands have translated this into quantifiable results.
Companies are working hard to seek favor with desirable fans. For instance, on the heels of its massive comeback, Chrysler (which sells its full-size sedans to buyers whose average age is 61) is looking to also win over women, young professionals, and young Hispanic families through targeted advertising of its jazzy new 200 model.
We also examined how social media stats stack up when it comes to gender, ethnicity, income, and politics. In the gender category, men across the board outpace women when it comes to following car brands on Facebook. The brand to most conquer this divide is Fiat, which claims 40% female followers and 60% male.
However, when it comes to holding driver’s licenses, spending time in the car, and influencing automobile purchases, women are actually in the driver’s seat. In fact, 80% of car buying decisions are now influenced by women. One explanation for the disparity? Men and women use social media differently. While women seek out personal connections and ask for real-world advice, men tend to perform research and seek to increase their status. On Facebook, presumably, a man may “like” a car brand page to get information (or feel like a luxury vehicle aficionado!) while a woman prefers to post a status update asking friends for vehicle recommendations.
As for other demographics, white people make up the majority of auto brands’ fan bases, followed by Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asian-Americans. People in the middle-income bracket ($50,000 to $100,000 annual income) are most likely to follow pages. When it comes to politics, Liberals overall follow more vehicle pages, but classic auto brands including Jeep, Dodge, and Ford are more popular among conservatives.
Fan Relationship Statuses
The data in this graph represent how much more or less likely the fans of car brands are to identify with various relationship statuses when compared with the Facebook average for all users in America. Across the board, Facebook fans of car brands are much more likely to be single or engaged, followed by people “in a relationship.” Married people trail by a wide margin (in fact, Facebook fans of only one brand, Ford, had a higher-than-average likelihood of being married).
Interestingly, when it comes to “likes,” single Facebook users seem to prefer luxury vehicles: Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, and several others top of the popularity chart. As a car is generally seen an indicator of financial success, is it safe to assume that single fans of luxury vehicles are hoping to attract a partner? Or do the unbalanced stats simply allude to the fact that life before marriage (and children) holds more freedom – both in terms of disposable income and sheer practicality – to seek out life in the fast lane?
The Top Brands per Generation
We have different needs for our automobiles as we enter new stages in our lives, and this is reflected in which brands are the most popular at those stages. New teen drivers appear to have high-end taste, favoring brands including Lexus and BMW (although they don’t necessarily have the income level to turn those tastes into reality). Ironically, the luxury vehicle–loving teen demographic has the highest crash rate of any age group of drivers, proving that good taste and good judgment don’t always go hand in hand.
Young adults’ tastes appear to mature as they pass the teen years: Though the groups share a love of Dodge, the other fan favorites are more down to earth (Subaru, Jeep, and Nissan). Families with children appear to favor practical vehicles (Jeep and Land Rover), while families with no children like state-of-the-art vehicles (Tesla).
Grandparents, known for their brand loyalty, appear to gravitate toward vehicle makers they grew up with: Their Facebook accounts reveal an appreciation for Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Honda, and Chevrolet. Though many automotive brands don’t gear marketing efforts to the senior demographic, older Americans are healthier and richer than ever before – meaning they drive for more years and choose higher-end models from their favorite brands.
The Top Brands per Career Path
In a similar vein, the career we choose impacts not only our budget but also what type of vehicle is the most practical on a daily basis – whether for hauling tools or picking up clients for a business lunch. We took a look at four career paths – construction, business, health care, and IT – to see which vehicle brands were most popular among these employees.
Construction employees – who earned an average of $35,750 per year in 2014 – favor brands with affordable price points and practical features, including Jeep, Dodge, and Ford. On the other end of the spectrum, business employees draw salaries on the higher side (the average salary even for an executive assistant was more than $53,000 in 2014) and favor luxury brands including Tesla, Fiat, Land Rover, and Lexus.
Our allegiances to particular car brands have been built on many contributing factors. Personal income determines which brands we can afford, but beyond this lies an open road for marketers to influence brand perception. One reason there may be a high degree of similarity between many brands is that the major makers offer a wide portfolio of vehicle types, each geared toward a particular audience. Whatever your preferences may be, it is both fun and intriguing to compare the trends from Facebook with the actual vehicles your family and friends drive.
The data for this project were collected via Facebook’s Audience Insights tool and were accurate as of Sep. 2015. The values are subject to change as fans come and go over time.
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