tribes | e-mobility | 7 min read

E-Mobility Tribes: From Digital Leaders to GoGreen Families 

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If there is anything businesses around the world need right now, it’s a solution that can speed up the innovation and decision-making processes. More crucially, a method that can help organizations shorten their sales cycles and answer the age-old question, “what drives consumers to buy a product”.

What differentiates agile forward-thinking brands from their competitors is how they go about getting their answer. 

Industry leaders are getting these answers quickly, shortening their time to market, and creating first mover advantages in tightening markets. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a gradual move towards online research, and that has now been expedited by the Covid-19 pandemic. The race is on to meet new consumer demands as changes in consumption habits, priorities, and even basic needs are observed by marketing teams across industries.

Why Automotive Brands Should Take Note

In this series, we focus on automotive brands as we explore the category’s evolution and track how innovative brands have started to adapt. Moving away from their reliance on traditional market research and focus groups, towards a consumer-centric approach of providing an experience, demonstrates a maturity that is certainly worth investigating.

While the center of any customer-first strategy is an audience, the innovation lies in how businesses go about gaining knowledge about buyers. The automotive and mobility industry has already spotted their opportunity with social intelligence and tribes. By incorporating data based on social and online activities, brands are able to build on existing audience segments and deep dive into the real wants and needs of these Tribes. The unique power of social intelligence is the key differentiator. 

The result? An authentic relationship with consumers who recognize and act on the relevant voice of a brand. Not mimicry, but marketing that looks and moves like a consumer because it mirrors their language and understands their shared interests. 

In our latest report on The Future of E-mobility, an automotive category that has been exploding over the last couple of years, we looked specifically into tribes driving the latest usage and consumption trends. After identifying two main groups – environmentally conscious consumers and those passionate about tech and innovation, we dived into their interactions and perspectives to understand how they shape the industry.

Tastemakers and their Technology 

As brands in the E-Mobility industry deal with the aftermath of COVID-19, social intelligence can offer a fast and scalable addition to traditional market research tactics. We already know what consumers really want out of their electric vehicles, but now we can examine how these varying perspectives shape the way consumers interact with and perceive e-mobility. 

We know what tribes are, why we should be targeting them, and that those online communities are constantly in flux as conversations are tracked in real-time. It is important that brands identify specific attributes for each of their tribes.

By tracking 4.41 million mentions of EVs we analyzed consumers based on their attitudes, behaviors, topics of interest, and passions to more narrowly identify 5 key tribes related to electric vehicles (EV). These tribes highlight consumer types across demographic groups, location, language, and gender.

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Urban Technophiles follow new tech releases avidly and will take to popular web forums like Reddit to dissect product releases. They appreciate YouTube reviews and tech influencers and will leave their perspectives on the features of new products in the comments section. 

Their daily lives are heavily integrated into the tech ecosystem. Whether that’s taking an e-scooter to their job at a tech firm or taking advantage of seamless app integration to track their nightly run from their smartwatch, Urban Technophiles are always connected. They’re checking up on the latest tweets from influential tech figures including Elon Musk and Lex Fridman while streaming shows like Altered Carbon on their smart TV. 

They like being on the cutting edge of new technology, similar to the Digital Leaders. 

This forward-thinking tribe has a bit more disposable income and are not afraid to spend it. In some cases, they may already own an EV, and consider their vehicles to be a status symbol. 

Design and performance can determine which vehicle they buy, and this may make them more partial to ICE sports cars. 

Automakers producing cars like the Porsche Taycan are right on target for these tribes. They are the most likely to already own an EV, and luckily for brands producing sports car and luxury model EV’s, Digital Leaders are among the least likely to have experienced financial instability due to COVID-19.  

A majority of this tribe works in consulting or finance and have been able to maintain their lifestyle. If they’re in the market to buy a car, chances are they are looking at an electric vehicle.

By contrast, you have our last tech-focused group, the Urban Tastemakers. These city dwellers tend to work in the creative industries as writers, designers, or in advertising. This tribe lives small but thinks big. Choosing to live in the center of the action means shorter commute times for this tribe and easier access to all the fashion, art, and music events in their cities. They are always ready to try out the new tech and were among the early adopters of e-scooters

Although they spend more on ride-sharing services than they would otherwise spend on a car, money takes a back seat to convenience as one of their major points of consideration. Time will tell about their transition to car ownership, but the future looks bright for an EV purchase. 

Going Green For the Future

Technological and environmental concerns go hand in hand in the e-mobility industry, but for those on the environmental side of the coin, EVs are seen to be an investment in their families and in the future of the planet. 

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Whether they live in the city or in the suburbs, if Gogreen Families own a car they are using the vehicle for convenience on the weekends and holidays. They can generally be found riding more affordable options including bikes and e-scooters like their younger Urban Tastemaker counterparts. This tribe however is considerably more pragmatic and keeps their eyes on the key benefits of owning an EV. Everything from tax exemptions and environmental impact, to safety and reliability, make Gogreen Families the key market for reasonably priced EVs. 

They will compromise on design to make sure they have enough space to seat their growing families.  There is a fantastic opportunity for brands with mid-range vehicles as this tribe is primed to buy and in the market. Even with the financial considerations families must make in the COVID-19 era, EVs are considered an investment in their children’s futures.

Volvo absolutely nailed zeroing in on this Tribe with their ad, Volvo Moment. They highlight their intention to create the safest vehicles in the world, hold themselves accountable to the harm ICE vehicles have done to the environment, and then pledge to do better with a strict action plan:

Although Holistic Changemakers might not have children yet, they see investing in the future as a key reason to purchase an EV. They work to reduce their impact and improve the world in all aspects of their lives. The sentiments expressed in the Volvo advertisement would resonate deeply with these Tribes’ uncompromising philosophy for improving the planet. 

They support EVs for those who need a vehicle, but they would rather use a bike, scooter, or a rented car. Unlike their tech-inclined counterparts, the Digital Leaders, Holistic Changemakers care more about the stories of brands like Tesla, whom they consider an underdog who came from behind to change the face of a polluting industry. Much like Elon Musk himself, members of this Tribe eschew the traditional and care less about the gimmicks or marketing, and more about the transformational nature of tech itself.  

Although they might aspire to own a high-end EV someday, this Tribe is generally younger with less disposable income. They may drive older ICE vehicles or entry level EVs like a Toyota Prius. 

EVs are just one piece of the puzzle for this Tribe, but they see COVID-19 as the inflection point for wider electric vehicle adoption. Brands who find unique ways to integrate their vehicle offerings into the wider lifestyle choices of Holistic Changemakers could nurture this Tribe into one of their key demographics.

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Both Holistic Changemakers and Gogreen Families are more practical and cost-conscious than their tech counterparts. They appreciate the ability to limit their impact on the environment and also save money on day-to-day costs. These Tribes consider their EVs to be an investment in their families and the future of the planet. 

Which Tribes Should You Target?

Ultimately, sociodemographic and lifestyle indicators provided the most valuable information when defining each Tribe. Whether your target audience is more focused on technology or the environment, creating relationships between your brand and nurturing the connections between your consumers can take your marketing beyond traditional methods.

Defining and identifying Tribes is just the first step to inspiring the conversations and purchases you want consumers to make. Knowing where to find them is the next key. Which influencers do Urban Tastemakers follow who can push the importance of sustainable car ownership? How likely are Holistic Changemakers to purchase an EV in the coming year? Dive into the detailed insights and conclusions in our report, What’s the Future of E-Mobility Digital Tribes and Their Impact During Covid-19 now.

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