For the recent DMS report, DMS Auto Insights: Top Car Makes & Models On The Road In The U.S. In 2018, we analyzed the consumer data identifying makes and models dominating the car industry. A closer look at the marketing campaigns aligned with the top five models, all sedans except the Ford F-150, illustrates car companies merging deep-rooted messaging with innovative ideas. The top car brands emphasize modern and technological advances while remaining connected to their car’s known characteristics, offering something for every buyer.
1) The Nissan Altima Is Dominant In The Sedan Marketplace
As the number one car model in the U.S., the Altima dominates the sedan space. “We are bullish on the sedan market,” said Anne Corrao, Chief Marketing Manager for family sedans and sports cars at Nissan North America. “Altima plays a huge role. It is our brand ambassador. It's the car that put us on the map, and we continue to see this segment perform for us.” Since its launch in 1992, the Altima has been the centerpiece of the Nissan sedan line. By positioning themselves as an alternative to the Camry and focusing on engine performance and access to a powerful ride at every price point, Nissan has been able to scale Altima’s success. Nissan’s move into expanding their model range for increased affordability and focus on fuel efficiency and tech-based solutions for Millennial and Gen Z drivers are likely to keep Altima at the top of the list.
2) The Ford F-150 Shatters Sales Records
The Ford F-150 is the only truck in the top-five car models according to our report DMS Auto Insights: Top Car Makes & Models On The Road In The U.S. In 2018, and the F-series is Ford’s most successful line. Since launching in 1948, Ford has sold more than 40 million F-series trucks, and recent numbers in 2018 indicate Ford sold a truck every 35 seconds from January through June of 2018, “shattering” a 14-year record. The classic appeal of this heritage brand cannot be underestimated, but that hasn’t stopped Ford from continuing to innovate.
Truck consumers are very thorough, often spending 45% more time researching their vehicle purchase than a typical car shopper, and marketing campaigns are detail-oriented to appeal to that research mindset. The recent focus of F-150 campaigns has been on smart technologies highlighting the modernization of a classic truck, while continuing to emphasize the “Built Ford Tough” message with specific content about hauling capacity and innovations in toughness. Multichannel campaigns support the brand’s messaging.
3) The Honda Accord Emphasizes Excellence
Excellence is at the heart of the Honda Accord, and the launch of their 10th generation model in 2017 was built around this premise and continues to be central to Honda Accord’s messaging. As the second most popular sedan model in the U.S., emphasizing what makes it special and connecting with consumers has been an essential part of Honda’s marketing approach. “Our goal is that if you're in the market for a sedan and this is a choice you want to make, that you choose Accord, because it offers you everything you need,” said Susie Rossick, Assistant Vice President of Honda Automotive Marketing. Honda’s iconic trophy commercials, hyping all their latest upgrades, deftly encapsulates what has made the Accord a leader for Honda. And with the tagline “Our quest for better never ends,” it is clear Honda won’t rest on prior success.
4) Toyota Camry Targets A Younger Demographic
The Toyota Camry, a workhorse since it hit the market in 1982, is targeting a younger demographic with their new marketing strategy. Since Millennials account for 29% of new car sales, this is a smart pivot. With the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima ahead of the curve in sales, the Camry is looking to entice a new generation of drivers. This includes people from a mix of different backgrounds and ethnicities, a goal they approached by creating four different commercials aligned with TV networks and programs reaching specific targeted audiences.
Their current tagline “Let’s Go Places” captures the welcoming nature of the Camry campaign. “It is energetic, aspirational, inclusive and very versatile,” said Bill Fay, Senior Vice President of Toyota Automotive Operations. “The phrase [Let’s Go Places] conveys a dual meaning of physically going places and taking off on an adventure, while also expressing optimism and the promise of exciting innovation that enriches people's lives.”
5) Chevrolet Impala Offers A Classic Sedan
The Chevrolet Impala was a wildly popular car for Chevy throughout the 1960s and 70s, defining the era of big sedans and muscle cars. After temporary production stops in the 1990s, the Impala returned in 2000. No longer offering a V8 and changing its image to a safe family sedan, the Impala enjoyed a successful rebrand. Since then Chevrolet has pitched the Impala as a return to classic sedans, airing a commercial in 2014 portraying the Impala as an elegant option for elegant drivers. The messaging for the 2019 Impala echoes these sentiments, defining the Impala as a car with an “athletic and sophisticated design” that “announces your arrival without you having to say a word.”
Marketing campaigns for cars and trucks can be iconic, innovative and creative, but even the hottest selling vehicles in the U.S. must capture the attention of loyal customers and potential buyers. This can include targeting younger demographics who are interested in technology and eco-friendly options, while still touting the handling, power and tradition that may appeal to repeat customers.
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