Road Signs: 10.2008

Media Post’s Research Briefs reports a new Kelley Blue Book marketing research study finds that sixty-one percent of new-vehicle shoppers say it is important to purchase a vehicle from a brand that is environmentally friendly. On average, consumers say they are willing to spend $2,600 more for an environmentally friendly vehicle, says the study . . . Another Research Brief reports a Northwestern University tracking study shows a slight increase in newspaper readership overall but a decrease in readership among 18 to 24 year-olds. And, that readership of local newspaper web sites is still “quite low.”  Respondents rated print significantly higher than web sites on four experiences: “gives me something to talk about”, “looks out for my interests”, “ad usefulness”, and “touches and inspires me”.

Although the Carbuzzard is temporarily grounded, one tidbit from along the road was passed to us by its pilot, John Matras. It is from a U.K. publication noting the devolvement of press junkets. Ford’s UK PR manager Fiona Pargeter, is quoted with this explanation for an overnight press trip to Tuscany to launch the new Fiesta. “Five years ago, a press trip as important as this one would have lasted several days and would have involved perhaps 120 journalists going somewhere really exotic. But in the new media landscape – in which a car review can be uploaded and appear within a day – no firm wants to spend more time and money than they need to.”

For those trying to make sense of Social Media, Cory Treffiletti defines four types in’s  “Making Sense of Social Media“: Social Networks,  Social Applications, Citizen Journalism, and Virtual Worlds. . . . In a back to the future move NHRA plans a multi-platform campaign starting next year fueled with the help of Coca Cola’s new Full Throttle brand to get young drivers to race on a drag strip instead of the streets. That’s where the drag racing organization began under the late Wally Parks.

Karl Greenberg, writing in Media Post about how automakers are combating the serious slump in auto sales includes some trenchant observations (although they be self-serving) from Stephen Berkov, executive director of client strategy at (and former director of marketing at Audi) who says there is a silver lining to the brutal market. “I’m bullish because it will give every automaker a chance to be reconsidered,” he says. “That people are doing research before they buy based on lease prices, fuel economy and technology has allowed brands stuck under the ice to emerge,” he says. “The less-considered brands are trying to gain consideration, and online research is helping them.” Berkov says the economy has created a different perspective on brand value. “Until 2007, it was so much about the badge, the brands; ‘more is more’ was the rule–now the core of what’s becoming important is truth and progress. People want to be informed, make smart decisions and be able to tell their friends why. It’s the Infobahn versus the Autobahn.”

A study by PR agency Fleishman Hillard, as reported in the UK’s Immediate Network Press, PR and Media Digest, purports that the Internet has ten times the influence of traditional media on the average consumer’s choices.