Did you know that the type of car you own can say a lot about your politics? This may seem strange. But a survey by the automotive marketing firm Auto Pacific reveled interesting connections between the kind of car someone wants and how they vote.
The survey was conducted before the 2016 presidential election. It asked about 1,100 car-buyers about their political views. In the survey, people identified their political party affiliation. 34% were Republicans. 36% of the respondents said they were independents. 5% identified as Democrats. Finally, 25 % said they belonged to the libertarian party.
The Power of Branding
The survey wanted to look at how branding works. In particular, it wanted to understand if there was a correlation between car brands and political beliefs. This kind of study can provide valuable information for car dealers.
That’s because brands are more than a name. They’re an idea. They’re an identity. The public associates brands with specific cultures. That means understanding how different brands of cars relate to different political beliefs can provide a marketer with tons of useful information.
The Results of the Survey
The survey produced some results that were surprising and some that weren’t so surprising. For example, almost 1/3 of people that wanted to buy a GMC car supported Donald Trump. At the same time, 1/3 of Mitsubishi drivers also favored Republicans. The GOP also wins among people that want to buy a Scion. 30.8% of these consumers support Republicans.
Democratic voters tend to prefer different types of cars. For example, 25.2% of Democrats I the survey preferred a Tesla. Another 24.8% wanted a Mercedes Benz. Finally, 24.7% of these voters said they prefer an Infiniti.
There are also some brands that go both ways. For example, Cadillac buyers were split 24% to 25% between the two major parties.
Another brand that straddles the political spectrum is Toyota. 27% of Toyota buyers identify as Republicans. That’s compared to 29% of Toyota buyers who identify as Democrats.
It’s not that surprising that larger brands – like Toyota – would appeal to both Republicans and Democrats. After all, these brands spend lots of money to study people. They want to appeal to the largest market base possible.
These brands also offer a wider range of models. For example, Toyota makes popular pickup trucks as well as popular family sedans and coupes. That allows them to appeal to a wider range of audiences. It’s also why the different models have their own branding.
Continuing with the previous example, the Toyota Tacoma is marketed differently from the Toyota Camry. The pickup truck has more usefulness in areas of the country that are predominantly Republican. Whereas the Camry appeals to people that live in major metropolitan areas. These people are more likely to be Democrats.
Each of these cars has different marketing methods. The Tacoma is marketed as a tough, rugged, and powerful truck. The Camry is marketed as a sensible, practical car for families or singles. The nation’s political preferences closely align with geography. That means it makes sense that people who live in areas that require more rugged cars would like the Tacoma, while those who live in cities would prefer the Camry.
How Cars are Marketed
This study tells us a great deal about how car marketing works. It also tells auto-makers and car dealerships how they can appeal to the people they want to target. Understanding the way that politics and car preference intersect also opens up new possibilities for marketing. Even those in the electoral college may not realize their car choices are influenced by intelligent marketing campaigns based on their political leanings.
If a car company finds that their product is popular among a certain political party, they can then use that information to determine what other kinds of brand-associations can make their products sell better.
For example, if Ford discovers that its cars are popular with Democrats, then they can find out what other kinds of things are popular with Democrats. This leads to the ability to have effective cross-branding and product promotions. Ford can place their cars in movies Democrats are likely to watch. According to Unite for America, an organization trying to educate voters, people are far more influenced by this type of marketing than they realize.
Car companies can also find out what kind of messaging works best for their target audience. If they want to target Republican voters, or sell more in an area that’s mostly Republican, then they can use other information to see what kind of messages appeal to those voters.
The useful thing about this kind of study for car makers and sellers is that there is a lot of research on what different political affiliations say about what kind of messages a person finds persuasive. If Democratic voters are concerned about the environment, then a car maker can highlight the ways that their product is environmentally friendly. It may come as no surprise that celebrities who voted against Trump drive these types of vehicles too.
This is a good situation for car makers and car dealers. It’s also a good situation for car buyers. Better marketing information can help car companies explain why someone should want to buy their products. That means consumers can find out things they didn’t know about the cars before. This helps encourage them to buy that car. In turn, more sales encourage the car company to produce similar products to capitalize on their brand’s strengths.
In this way, something as simple as car-buying can become part of the way that our culture and society evolves. Trends are important. If more people buy low-emission vehicles, then that kind of car gains in popularity. This makes more people want to buy them. That makes more car manufactures want to produce them.
In the end, you can’t always tell how someone votes based on what kind of car they own. After all, not everyone has the luxury of choosing a car of their choice. Many more people choose the car they own based on affordability, reliability, and performance. However, it can be a strong indication of what kinds of things they like. In turn, this can tell you a great deal about what kind of person they are.
So keep this in mind the next time you’re driving around on the street or shopping for a car. The choice you make for your car can tell others more about you than you realize. So whether you're a Trump or a Biden fan you may have already been showing it by the vehicle you've chosen to commute in.