2
Mar

The Challenge of Selling Electric Vehicles

By Bryan Krulikowski, Senior Vice President

While automotive manufacturers continue to push forward with electrified plug-in vehicles in the United States, an important question begs to be answered: Who is going to buy them?

According to Morpace’s 2016 Powertrain Acceptance and Consumer EngagementTM (PACETM) study, more than one-third of current gasoline-powered vehicle owners plan to purchase an alternative fuel vehicle. While this shows high upside potential for EVs and Plug-In EVs, further analysis shows that consumers may not be completely comfortable making this leap from gasoline quite yet. In some sense, electrified vehicles are outside of most consumers’ comfort zone.

Keep It Simple, Stupid

Looking at data from the PACE study and leveraging our powertrain experience, we see that consumers prefer technologies that follow the GEMO principle—Good Enough, Move On—and prefer the least change to their lifestyles as possible. Technologies that offer both of these attributes include Hybrid EVs, turbocharged gasoline-powered vehicles, and the conventional internal-combustion engine. Automotive manufacturers have made significant strides in improving the fuel economy of gasoline-powered vehicles and, for a significant number of consumers, the fuel-savings realized by these technologies—and the lower incremental price charged for them over electrified powertrains—provides a “good enough” level of performance and efficiency. Further, neither of these technologies requires consumers to install re-charging equipment at their home, be at the mercy of infrastructure limitations when looking to re-charge away from home, or worry about other issues related to range anxiety. If you run low on gasoline, one can almost always find a refueling station nearby; for electrified vehicles, ease of finding re-charging stations is still the exception not the rule.

Not Motivated to Change

Further, the lack of a major market event is curtailing interest in electrified vehicles among mainstream vehicle buyers. Specifically, fuel prices in the U.S. are not driving consumers to consider electrified vehicles at an accelerated rate. In fact, the lower prices we have enjoyed in the U.S. have resulted in the opposite effect.

According to the PACE study, today’s national gasoline prices are below the price consumers have indicated is low enough for them to consider a less fuel-efficient, larger vehicle. This is one explanation for the market shift we are seeing away from sedans to SUV/CUVs and Trucks. In fact, gasoline prices would have to reach $5.20/gallon for the average consumer to consider a more fuel-efficient vehicle than what they have now—nearly $3.00/gallon more than today’s average.

But… There is Hope!

While the above commentary suggests a less-than-pretty future for electrified technologies, this certainly does not have to be the case. Perhaps the most important finding from the PACE study is that virtually all current owners of PHEVs or EVs will remain an electrified vehicle owner in the future. Once consumers move away from gasoline-powered vehicles, they are extremely unlikely to go back to them. However, a daunting challenge is ahead of automotive manufacturers as they need to not only offer electrified vehicles in the right package and at the right price, but they also need to rely on a dependable and comprehensive infrastructure to support these vehicles on a mass-market level.

It will certainly be exciting to see how electrification strategies play-out in the coming years.

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14
Oct

Revealing Modern Truths About Fantasy Football

Fantasy-Football

By Greg Deinzer, Research Director

(With input from Chris Winkler)

I love watching football, but haven’t been involved in a fantasy league for 25 years. Back then, there was no online assistance to research or draft players, or to keep track of everyone’s weekly stats.

After all, that was the job of your league’s ‘commissioner’ who conscientiously entered data into a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet and then kept all the important information to himself. That’s why he always won the $100 money pool year after year.

Nowadays, it seems everyone and their mother is in a fantasy football league. So, being the good market researcher that I am, I was curious to find out more about why fantasy football is still so popular. Findings from Morpace’s September 2015 Omnibus survey of 1,001 U.S. respondents help reveal some interesting truths about fantasy football leagues.

It turns out that only 13% of all respondents are involved in one or more season-long NFL Fantasy Football leagues this year. Of those currently participating, one-half are playing in one league, over one-fourth in two leagues, and 1-in-5 is in three or more leagues.

One-in-seven people who are currently in a league are participating for the first time. (Welcome…to the jungle!) And, about one-fourth have been involved for seven or more years. (Watch it bring you to your knnn knne knees, knees.) (Guns N’ Roses ca. 1987).

More women are joining season-long fantasy football leagues than when I participated. According to our Omnibus, over one-third (36%) of those currently playing in a league are female, and one-half of them are in their first or second year.

Surprising to me is that the top reason for joining a fantasy football league isn’t to win the prize pool. Three-out-of-five play because they like the competition and one-fifth want to do something together with their spouse/partner (which defeats the whole purpose in my opinion. Maybe that’s why I’m divorced).

There are fewer musty basements to meet in anymore. All of the fantasy football leagues are now hosted online, and well more than one-half of the participants draft their team online from various locations. Bars and restaurants even advertise each summer the reasons why your fantasy football draft should be held at their establishment.

Fantasy football leagues are also not as costly as I remember. The median total spent, according to our Omnibus, is $50 including entry fees, reference books, magazines, advice, parties, etc. However, close to one-third of fantasy managers subscribe to DirecTV’s NFL ticket, and if you’re like me and also subscribe, you know that this package can sometimes require a second mortgage. That may be why the mean total spent is $196 and $347 for first and second year participants.

In total, players admit to spending an average of 5.5 hours per week managing their team(s). Combine this with the two-thirds of fantasy managers who watch 3 or more games per week (at least one-half’s worth of the game) and we have a lot of time spent (or wasted) per week.

Three-fourths of those employed admit to checking on their fantasy football team at work, averaging 3.5 hours per week ‘managing’ their teams. I think we can double that average and add a few more hours and still not be close to reality.

Like me, 7% are not currently in any fantasy leagues, but have been in the past. Unlike me, about one-half of those people ‘Have other things to do’. Five percent even admitted that they quit because it interfered with their job. Hey, whatever happened to multi-tasking?

With the barrage of commercials for “one week” fantasy games and the amount of money you can win, the 5% of all respondents and one-third of current season-long participants who report playing the weekly contests seems low. But, because of illegal use of insider information, weekly games are probably only fun and profitable for the people who work at the websites who host them.

Oh, and if you are wondering who is going to win Super Bowl 50, 12% of all respondents predict the New England Patriots will repeat as champs. Seven percent pick the Green Bay Packers. Another 7% feel that the Seahawks will come through, barring a last second interception. And a whopping 47% chose a team that I’ve never heard of – ‘Don’t know/Don’t care’.

This likely isn’t information that you will use to help your company become more profitable, but the data from this Morpace Omnibus may help you to sound smarter than your fellow fantasy football league owner. And if anything, it tells us that America’s love for football is not going anywhere (that is, if you disregard the one-half who ‘Don’t know/Don’t care’).

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2
Apr

Power Brands: Forecasting Consumer Reception of The Apple Car

By David Myhrer Senior Vice President and Eric Roach, Research Director

Strong brands are valuable because they create an emotional connection with consumers and often command a price premium.

This statement should not come as a surprise to anyone. However there is a recent example that Morpace experienced on how powerful a brand really can be.

Strong brands build trust through their core competency.  This makes them more readily extendable, allowing them entry into new products and markets not previously exploited by the brand.

You may have heard that Apple, yes the provider of the iPhone, iWatch, iPad, iPod, iPay, and iTunes, is planning to manufacture and sell an electric vehicle by 2020.

We thought it would be interesting to ask the Morpace MyDrivingPowerTM community some questions about this strategy. This panel includes more than 250 consumers around the U.S. who own electric and/or hybrid powertrain vehicles. Given that this panel is the exact target market that Apple would be targeting with such a vehicle, we thought the results would be representative of the strength of the Apple brand.

Among the more notable highlights of the survey:

  • 33% of consumers would be “extremely” or “very” likely to purchase a new Apple car
  • 64% of consumers would be willing to pay between $30,000 and $50,000 for an Apple electric vehicle in 2020; another 22 percent would be willing to pay more than $50,001
  • The vast majority of consumers expected the design of an Apple electric car to “be better” than other electric vehicles (79%)

Additional data gleaned from the survey further indicated that there was a high level of trust in the Apple name. Think about it. These consumers have a very positive view of an electric vehicle manufactured by a company that has never been competitive in the automotive market!

Trust is emotional but it is not irrational. Consumers trust Apple because of its sustained excellence in designing devices and offering services which are attractive and intuitively delivered based on the consumer experience. This trust is the reason consumers grant Apple “license” to continue to venture its brand into new markets.

In this case, Apple, no doubt, benefits from Google’s continued development of a driverless vehicle, paving the way for technology companies in the vehicle space.

In the automotive market, the exterior and interior design of the vehicle is extremely important.  Apple’s ability to consistently deliver sleek and attractive designs leaves consumers with little doubt about the brand’s ability to deliver an attractive vehicle design.

Furthermore, given that vehicle infotainment systems are more and more important to consumers, Apple’s brand likely offers some intrinsic value to consumers here as well. Many of the systems developed by traditional auto manufacturers remain plagued by perceived usability challenges which hurt them in the eyes of consumers and vehicle buyers. So is it any wonder that consumers are bullish on Apple’s potential in this marketplace?

The lesson here is that your brand should be nurtured and actively managed. You need to make sure that your brand is being viewed favorably by your target market. Because a brand that is not trusted could be a sign of troubling times ahead – think of the many brands that were once iconic to American consumers that have disappeared.

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