Auto-Motives: What “drives” American attitudes towards cars?

March 26, 2012 by Experian Marketing Services

The U.S. auto industry has rebounded in ways that few could have predicted. And like the Big Three, the financial well-being of American consumers is also on the rise. As the economic rebound continues to gain momentum, Americans will be increasingly tempted to upgrade their ride, whether that means a new vehicle or simply a good detailing job and a tune-up. In fact, Experian Simmons reports that 22% of U.S. adults who own or lease a vehicle say they expect to acquire their next set of wheels sometime during the next 12 months.

To help forward-thinking marketers more effectively target American drivers, Experian Simmons created the Simmons Auto-MotivesSM consumer segmentation system, which places U.S. adults into one of five mutually exclusive segments based on their attitudes towards automobiles and driving. Those segments are:

  • Main Streets: 15% of all adults
    Main Streets’ driving behaviors are actually quite pedestrian. From their viewpoint, a car is simply a method of getting from point A to point B and not much more. The true value of a car to Main Streets is in its longevity and reliability.
  • Rough Terrains: 26% of all adults
    Rough Terrains love speed and performance and are less concerned with safety features. They are characterized by their knowledge of the latest advances in auto technology and their exuberance for power. Rough Terrains tend to favor SUVs, which match their active lifestyles.
  • Cul-de-Sacs: 17% of all adults
    Cul-de-Sacs are practical drivers. Function and comfort are the true sources of value in a car. Cul-de-Sacs tend to choose a vehicle for its practical qualities over its performance, image or status. They tend to go on long car trips for vacation.
  • Boulevards: 17% of all adults
    Boulevards like new cars. They appreciate American-made automobiles, luxury features and additional options in a car. Boulevards get enjoyment from driving and take pride in their car, which is a reflection of their lifestyle and image.
  • City Streets: 24% of all adults
    City Streets represent those who like to change cars frequently. For them, a vehicle is part of their identity. City Streets choose a car for its image and status rather than its practical qualities and its performance. They tend to use their car for work, as well as for pleasure.

The Simmons Auto-Motives segments attitudes are often quite different. Below are a few key attitudinal traits that make them stand apart.

The segments also differ in their typical weekly travel. For instance, Rough Terrains drivers travel an average of 172 miles each week by car, truck or van, whereas City Streets travel the least distance: only 140 miles per week, on average. Given that Rough Terrains are more likely to live in ‘D’ counties—the most rural county type—it makes sense that this group would put the most rubber to the road.

Meantime, Cul-de-Sacs drivers win the title of most packed vehicle because they typically travel by car, truck or van with 2.6 people, including themselves. Adults in this group are also the most likely to share their ride with kids. Of the 2.6 vehicle occupants, 0.6 are non-adults. Main Streets are the least likely to qualify for the HOV lane, travelling on average in vehicles with just 1.8 occupants.

To learn more about the Simmons Auto-Motives segments and other automotive trends, download the free report from Experian Simmons.