Around the world, the EV market is booming. As recently reported by EV magazine, in the last three months of 2023, Chinese automaker BYD sold more electric vehicles than Tesla in the final quarter of 2023, yet Tesla still sold more overall, 1.8m in 2023. This is due to many factors, from drivers deciding to make a long-term investment, to making a personal environmental choice. Widening EV infrastructure and affordability has made all of this possible, as well as effective sales. Ahed Nakad Jendza, SVP, Industry Sales at Mediaocean, tells us more.
How do EVs need to be marketed differently to other vehicles?
“While the steady growth of the market over the past 20 years has broadened general knowledge of EVs, the target market for these vehicles is quickly expanding. Millennials and Gen Z are typically seen as more comfortable with new technologies and concepts, but the older generation’s preference of lighter, quicker and more refined vehicles has seen their demand for EVs increase.
“With EVs now reaching a demographic which is generically known to be more cautious and sceptical, the challenges of marketing to them are changing. The driver’s emotional connection to a brand is still a top priority, but the lack of knowledge on ownership, charging infrastructure and vehicle maintenance are just as important. So marketing should be shifting away from purely ‘sizzle’ and towards wider education and myth-busting.”
Tell us about the recent dip in private EV sales.
“2023 brought a lot of economic challenges and EV sales are no exception. With the government pushing forward with its zero-emissions mandate (this will ensure that eight out of every ten cars sold are battery or hydrogen powered by 2030), the EV market needs to go full steam ahead to boost private sales and encourage motorists to make the switch to electric.
“While no market is immune to wider macroeconomic changes, a pause in growth for EV sales cannot be ignored, however brief it is. Personally, I think this is an opportunity to revisit and rethink how we market EVs compared to the vehicles that consumers are more used to. It is, after all, a relatively new product category, requiring new behaviours from drivers and new selling approaches.”
Is education the only angle that EV marketing should take?
“Potential customers could be coming from various positions and brands need to meet them where they are. While some customers will be looking for more information on charging and vehicle maintenance, others will be looking for reassurance on green credentials and some will be seeking the most interactive and intuitive features that the industry has to offer.
“Whatever their primary focus, it can take many months and thousands of touchpoints to move customers through the funnel from awareness to purchase. To keep customers steady on this journey, marketers should be dynamic and proactive, encouraging the switch to EVs with campaigns that are tailored to changing hopes, needs and anxieties.”
How can auto brands engage customers in new and exciting ways?
“The beauty of modern marketing is the tools we can now employ to engage customers. Meeting the demands of their buying journey means levelling up personalisation and creativity to speak directly to them. EV marketers are using emerging formats such as connected TV, augmented reality and dynamic video to enable more relevant and engaging campaigns. Which in turn provides a significantly more impactful brand connection. Smarter targeting tools are being used to link hero creative and interactive second screen experiences to give customers more information and develop a positive relationship to this new market.”
Gen AI has caused a lot of hype over the past 12 months – how can auto marketers use these tools?
“As in pretty much every other industry, Gen AI has been making a lot of noise in the automotive space. While the extent of its value to the industry is still being explored, Gen AI is already offering an efficient way of measuring and optimising marketing campaigns.
“AI gives marketers the ability to create thousands of ads to fine-tune messaging and target different consumer segments more creatively and successfully. It also streamlines the collection of insights and creative intelligence, such as assessing the impact of a female vs male voiceover on an ad, in addition to better understanding the impact of tone and sentiment. AI can provide brands with more creative flexibility, providing the opportunity to stitch localised backgrounds based on audience, or even allowing the opportunity to expand frames to extend ad footage across channels.
“As well as adapting content to fit the audiences the campaign is targeting, Gen AI also ensures content goes further and functions across multiple channels and formats. The technology can automatically optimise visuals and messaging to boost performance, giving marketers greater creative impact and giving EV brands a clearer picture of their target audiences.”
How does sustainability factor into marketing EVs?
“Of course, given the nature of the EV industry and the demands of its customers, manufacturers are looking to be as sustainable as possible. Today’s consumers, particularly those that fall under Gen Z, are overwhelmed with sustainability messaging and want to buy into brands that have a focus on climate consciousness. Whether it’s through pushing new initiatives like using less leather, reducing waste by embracing recyclable materials, or collaborating with sustainable partners, EV companies are finding new solutions to drive the social shift that’s needed to safeguard the planet.
“By shifting the traditional purchase funnel to meet customers where they are, I believe that the EV industry will achieve greater creative relevance. A new market necessitates a new marketing approach, so while EV audience segments and their needs can differ dramatically, marketers should be ready and willing to tailor campaign content and better understand the consumer journey.”
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