The Auto Channel
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The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
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Listen Up: Influentials Are (STILL) Talking about Vehicle Brands! The Auto Channel (Still) A Favorite Of Auto Influentials

Influentials (select to view enlarged photo)

The Auto Channel Still The Favorite Automotive Site Of Auto Influentials

Originally Published January 24, 2008

Publisher's Note: For more than 12 years The Auto Channel ad sales team has been trying to convince the car maker's ad agencies that "influentials" are the most important ally an auto brand can have...and car influentials make up a large part of The Auto Channel audience.

We have preached and preached since 1996 that autombile oriented sites like The Auto Channel are where the car makers budgets should be spent...but frankly to no avail.

The ad agency "gurus" in Detroit just didn't get it and look how well they served their clients...and the cool guys on the coast were deaf to the idea.

Well now that Harris has research to show that we were right all along I would hope that the planners and buyers will wake up and do what's right for their clients before they lose them.

If anyone is interested I can show them 12 years of presentations, proposals and powerpoints all given to ad agency "experts"...wake up planners, before you screw things up even more than you already have! Let me know what you


ROCHESTER, N.Y. January 24, 2008; Influentials are US adults who describe themselves as either very or extremely knowledgeable about vehicles. They are much more likely than ordinary consumers, referred to as Non-influentials, to say they know many people who are also knowledgeable about vehicles. And, they are more likely to talk to other knowledgeable people about the vehicles they are considering. With this in mind, Harris Interactive® decided to take a closer look at Influentials in the automotive market.

Overall, one in five US adults (19%) fit into this category. Males (82%) dominate the Influentials. dominate the Influentials.

The average age of Influentials is 45, which is in line with Non-influentials. Influentials have higher incomes, with more than half (53%) earning $75,000 or more compared to 40 percent of Non-influentials.

Who Do Influentials Know and Talk To?

Close to three in five (57%) Influentials know many people who are at least very knowledgeable about vehicles, compared to just 18 percent of Non-influentials. Influentials talk about vehicles mostly to family (60%) and friends (58%), while Non-influentials are less likely to talk about vehicles with family (38%) and more likely to talk with friends (65%). While Influentials talk to each other about vehicle choices, Non-influentials actively seek out advice from Influentials. Slightly more than half (55%) of Non-influentials initiate conversations about their vehicle choices with Influentials always or most of the time.

Stephen A. Lovett, Director of Automotive & Transportation Research at Harris Interactive, states: Consumers who take part in spreading the word can be extremely influential, so it is important to understand who they are and the level of impact they have on their social network. Influentials develop communities, which they are likely to rely on to make their vehicle choice. Non-influentials seek out Influentials for vehicle advice, but they are more likely than Influentials to rely on their shopping experience to make their final vehicle choice.

Influentials are more likely to indicate usage of traditional media (television, newspaper, magazines) as sources of vehicle information and are also more likely to use the Internet as a source (63% Influentials vs. 36% Non-influentials). However, they are less likely than Non-influentials to rely on other people (family, friends, acquaintances) and are less than half as likely to use a dealership salesperson as a source of information (17% Influentials vs. 38% Non-influentials).

Non-influentials are equally as likely to get vehicle information from each of their top sources friends/family members/acquaintances (40%), the Internet (36%) and a dealership salesperson (38%).

What is the Impact?

On a seven-point scale about likelihood to change vehicle brand choice, 10 percent of Influentials are at the top of the scale indicating they are "much more likely" to change their vehicle brand choice as a result of conversations with Influentials, while only 2 percent of Non-influentials indicate this.

Lovett concludes, While Non-influentials tend to rely on their shopping experience to make their final decision, we must be aware that Influentials can and do help determine which vehicles make it onto the shopping lists of Non-influentials.



Which of the following statements best describes you?

Base: All Respondents

    Influentials   Non-influentials
  %   %
I know many people who are very knowledgeable about cars or trucks   57   18
I know a few people who are very knowledgeable about cars or trucks   39   64
I know hardly anyone who is very knowledgeable about cars or trucks   3   14
I dont know anyone who is very knowledgeable about cars or trucks   -   4

- No Response



Has the information youve received through communications with these people who were very knowledgeable about cars or trucks made you more or less likely to purchase or lease a (INSERT BRAND)?

Base: U.S. adults who discussed vehicle choice with very knowledgeable others







  %   %
Much less likely, less likely, or somewhat less likely   -   9
Neither more nor less likely   39   31
Somewhat more likely   20   21
More likely   32   37
Much more likely   9   2

- No Response



Who were the people who were very knowledgeable about cars and trucks that you communicated with about the (INSERT BRAND)? Please select all that apply.

Base: Discussed vehicle with someone very knowledgeable about vehicles

    Influentials   Non-influentials
  %   %
Family members   60   38
Friends   58   65
Acquaintances   25   36
Others   5   4



Thinking about your most recent vehicle purchase or lease of the (INSERT BRAND), which of the following provided information that helped you in deciding which vehicle to select? Please select all that apply.

Base: Vehicle purchasers

    Influentials   Non-influentials
  %   %
Television   24   7
Newspapers   26   8
Magazines   33   8
Internet websites   63   36
Friends, family members, or acquaintances   26   40
Salesperson from auto dealer   17   38



Which of the following statements best describes you?

Base: All Respondents

    Influentials   Non-influentials
  %   %
Male   82   46
Female   18   54
Mean Age: Male   46   47
Mean Age: Female   45   46
Household income > $75,000 (USD) per annum   53   40



When you communicated about the (INSERT BRAND) with these people who were very knowledgeable about cars or trucks, about how often did you start the conversation?

Base: Discussed purchased or intended vehicle with someone very knowledgeable about vehicles

    Influentials   Non-influentials
  %   %
Always   31   20
Most of the time   36   35
Some of the time   27   40
Rarely   5   4
Never   1   1


This study was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive between June 28 and July 18, 2007 among 690 U.S. adults ages 18 and over who acquired a new or used automobile in the previous 12 months or intended to acquire a new or used vehicle in the next 12 months. Results were weighted as needed for age, gender, education, region and income and to properly represent US vehicle owners and intenders. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to be invited to participate in the Harris Interactive online research panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the largest and fastest-growing market research firms in the world. The company provides innovative research, insights and strategic advice to help its clients make more confident decisions which lead to measurable and enduring improvements in performance. Harris Interactive is widely known for The Harris Poll®, one of the longest running, independent opinion polls and for pioneering online market research methods. The company has built what it believes to be the worlds largest panel of survey respondents, the Harris Poll Online. Harris Interactive serves clients worldwide through its North American, European and Asian offices, and through a global network of independent market research firms. More information about Harris Interactive may be obtained at

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Harris Interactive Inc. 01/08