Marketing cars: Listen to the petrolheads

Simon Hughes
Kantar Media Intelligence UK

Car lovers seek advice from the like-minded in online 'virtual pubs' from Pistonheads.com to Mumsnet Cars. Marketers need to take great care in how they communicate with these opinion formers.

The first port of call for thousands of people across the UK when they are considering buying a new washing machine, toaster, watch, computer or lawn mower is not a white goods site or an IT site, but a motoring forum. Illogical though it may seem on the surface, it is perhaps less surprising when we look at how people behave online when they are thinking about parting with their hard-earned cash.

Many consumers searching for household appliances are habitual car forum users, from PistonHeads.com to Mumsnet. They 'know' (in the modern, internet-based sense of the word) many of the people from whom they are seeking advice, even if they have never physically met. They are fellow 'petrolheads' and the likelihood is that this online research on a car site is the only research they will carry out before buying other products or services.