Morpace's Word of Mouth Research

 

America’s Love Affair with Automobiles Appears to be Lost on Millennials

Teenagers’ Conversations about Cars Declined 27 Percent over the Last Six Years, According to Research by Morpac

Morpace Inc. a full-service marketing research and consulting firm, in partnership with Keller Fay Group, an Engagement Labs (TSXV:EL) company, released word of mouth (WOM) research earlier this month that found teenagers between the ages 13-17, are talking far less often about car brands than teenagers six years ago. The results of the study potentially signal a major change for the automobile industry and the broader automotive culture.

2016 ranks the first year when those born at the beginning of the 21st century will have the opportunity to get their driver's license. According to Morpace’s and Keller Fay’s WOM research, there was a 27 percent decline within the last six years in the number of people talking about cars on a daily basis among the millennial demographic of teens from ages 13-17, indicating a very different relationship with cars than the generations before them.

“For the last few years, leading automotive brands have seen a decrease in sales among older millennials and have wondered why this age group was buying fewer vehicles than expected,” says Bryan Krulikowski, Vice President of Business Development at Morpace. “This six year decline in daily conversations about cars among millennial teens is evidence that this generation overall does not find them as interesting as they once were to baby boomers.

“Given the long-term nature of this decline and the resurgence of urban areas, the trend towards ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft and autonomous vehicles will have staying power – they are not just passing fads,” Krulikowski added.

Increase/Decline of Automobile Conversations by Age Group in the U.S.
KF-graph-1
Source: Keller Fay’s TalkTrack® rankings of increase in consumer WOM conversation
among the automotive industry (Jan-Dec 2009; Jan-Dec 2015)

“[This] research demonstrates a profound change in the marketplace which raises the question of whether this current trend will turn out to be teenagers going through a phase based on their life stage, or whether this trend will become a long-term, generational change,” said Brad Fay, Chief Research Officer at Engagement Labs and Chief Operating Officer at Keller Fay Group.

Percentage of 13-17 Year Old’s Talking Daily About Major Industry Categories  
KF-graph-2

Source: Keller Fay’s TalkTrack® consumer WOM data (Jan-Dec 2009; Jan-Dec 2015)

Morpace and Keller Fay looked at daily conversations in other major industry categories among the same demographic – teenagers 13-17 – and found that the decline in WOM conversations is unique to the automotive industry. In fact, within the technology, quick service restaurant (QSR) & casual dining, and media & entertainment industries, the data showed a dramatic rise in WOM, with QSR & casual dining having the most significant increase of 53 percent.

“Teens are among the most talkative demographic, and their engagement in media, technology, and restaurants is skyrocketing. Therefore, we are confident that this downward trend for automotive is real and needs to be top of mind for the industry since brands can no longer rely on the car to be a symbolic measure of freedom for teens, which has helped to fuel demand in years past,” noted Fay.

Percentage Change in Daily Brand WOM Conversations among 13-17 Year Olds

KF-graph-3 
Source: Keller Fay’s TalkTrack® consumer WOM data (Jan-Dec 2009; Jan-Dec 2015)

Although there is an overall WOM decline in the automotive industry, certain brands are experiencing increases. Subaru, Audi, and Hyundai stand out as having bucked the general trend with wide increases in talk among teens, while other brands saw declines, ranging from -16 percent to -42 percent.

“This data provides marketers an opportunity to pay particular attention to this demographic when developing marketing strategies and messaging in an attempt to engage them. If this downward trend is just a phase, automobiles may become relevant to this generation as they get older and have more discretionary income,” Fay concluded.

About Morpace Inc.
Morpace is a fully integrated global market research and strategic consulting organization that specializes in custom qualitative and quantitative research. It helps its clients in automotive, healthcare, financial services, retail and consumer goods and technology to solve their most pressing marketing challenges. Established in 1975, Morpace is a Marketing News Gold Top 50 company and since 2009, one of the fastest growing U.S. - based research organizations. Morpace was also named the 2014 CASRO Research Organization of the Year.   

With an experienced team of industry professionals and an array of innovative research tools, Morpace has the “Creative Minds” and “Intelligent Solutions” to help its clients make smarter business decisions. It provides global expertise and proprietary solutions in three core areas: brand and communications; market and product development; and customer experience management.  

Morpace is headquartered in Detroit with offices in Los Angeles, London, and Shanghai. It conducts research in more than 60 countries and on six continents. Visit www.morpace.com for more information.

About Engagement Labs
Engagement Labs (TSXV:EL) offers intelligent Total Social™ data, analytics and insights for marketers and organizations enabling them to track, measure and benchmark the conversations happening around their brand or industry both online and offline. These conversations are proven to drive critical business outcomes, including sales, while Engagement Labs’ tools provide data and actionable insight to help guide business decisions and power marketing effectiveness.
 
Engagement Labs’ eValue™ Analytics tool is the global benchmark for social media scoring. eValue’s proprietary data technology offers real-time analysis to measure a brand’s social media and digital marketing efforts, distilling it down to a single meaningful number between 0 and 100 - an eValue score. Composed of a series of metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), an eValue score measures social media Engagement, Impact and Responsiveness which is benchmarked against 100,000+ handpicked and verified brands. The Keller Fay Group, an Engagement Labs company, is the only firm to regularly measure offline conversation via TalkTrack®; independent research finds offline conversation is a significant driver of sales with twice the impact of online conversation.
 
Engagement Labs maintains offices in Toronto ON, Montreal QC, London UK and New Brunswick NJ.
www.engagementlabs.com / www.kellerfay.com

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