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Want to Sell More Electric Vehicles? Stop Talking about the Environment

Trends and Insight 172 Add to collection

Ogilvy UK's head of social and content Jai Kotecha discusses how to tap into the electric vehicle market

Want to Sell More Electric Vehicles? Stop Talking about the Environment

With a plethora of choice when it comes to picking the perfect car, across both traditional models and electric vehicles, marketers would assume amplifying sustainability would lead to sales. 

Actually, the data suggests otherwise. In order to really tap into the market, we need to understand the real drivers for car choice. The secret to making electric vehicles more competitive might surprise you. According to research published in AdMap magazine, as of 2017, there were three main drivers of car choice. The first was style, appealing to the subjective tastes of the consumer. The second was the technological specifications: in an age where people expect their devices to seamlessly integrate, their vehicles are no exception. The final consideration was drivability. A consumer is more likely to select a car based on how it feels to use over its green credentials.

While these may seem largely generalist, there is one factor which didn’t feature at all in purchasers’ decisions: emission levels. As such, how environmentally-friendly a vehicle is cannot be considered a sole differentiator in the market.   

Still, if the best indicator of the future is the past, marketers selling EVs will seek to continue to exploit the ‘green’ angle.

This is a huge mistake.

Firstly, the benefit to the environment is inherent to electric vehicles. If a consumer is browsing EVs, the awareness that they cause less harm to the environment is pre-existent. While many current EV buyers may have made their selection by green reasoning, if carmakers hope to widen EV appeal, they should tenaciously emphasise other aspects of the product – treating the savings of fuel and the lowering of CO2 as the cherry on top, rather than the main thrust of its appeal.

Millennials are a perfect example of why automotive companies need to think outside of the ‘green’ box. A staggering 70 percent of Millennials are willing to pay a premium for products they perceive as ‘sustainable.’ However, it would be one-dimensional to cater to this need alone. Marketers have a responsibility to also convince consumers that an electric vehicle is actually everything they already want in every other sense, too – but they just don’t know it yet. For EVs to become a norm rather than niche, they have to remain competitive against a multitude of buying factors, and not just one.

But how do you change perception in a way which will actually resonate with potential customers?


How social, content and influencers can disrupt the automotive purchase funnel

Social, content and influencers have the potential to disrupt the current status quo, steering consumers towards electric vehicles. The main task for these paid media strategies is to educate the consumer – to convince him or her that the electric vehicle meets the aforementioned criterion for a new car, not just with green credentials, but also against metrics to do with style, drivability and technological ease. Most consumers don’t know, for example, that EVs actually outperform their internal combustion engine counterparts in some aspects of drivability.

To communicate such information, the best ‘vehicle’ is social and content. As 84 percent of car buyers perform research to inform their decision on a mobile device, the tools for marketers to reach them are already in their hands.

Well-placed promoted posts and informative long-form content can augment this research, exhibiting the style and grace of EVs, breaking down their performance benefits, and showcasing them as altogether ‘smart’ vehicles – smart-looking, hooked up to smart tech, and, as a bonus, a smart choice for the planet’s health. Influencers are also increasingly helping automotive brands convert audiences on social, into car drivers, hooking them in with both emotive and rational narratives. This is especially true for social first millennials and the Gen Z audiences who are slowly coming of car driving age. 

Many EVs already fit the bill according to this criteria. The key to selling more of them is communicating this effectively (read: engagingly). That’s where social and content come in – use them wisely, and EVs will become the vehicle of choice for a much wider audience.


Jai Kotecha is head of social and content at Ogilvy UK.

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Ogilvy UK, Wed, 01 May 2019 11:20:20 GMT