NEW YORK: Aside from financial factors, a simple love of driving is the biggest trigger of automotive sales globally while utility and status also feature strongly according to new research.

The Nielsen Global Survey of Automotive Demand surveyed more than 30,000 online consumers in 60 countries and found that 84% of those planning to buy a new car sometime in the next two years cited love of driving as a motivation. Practical needs (63%) and the desire for a status symbol (62%) were other significant prompts.

While the love of driving did not vary greatly by region – from 86% in Asia-Pacific to 80% in North America – more significant differences emerged with respect to the other leading spurs to purchase.

Thus status was much a much more important factor in Asia Pacific, where it drove 75% of respondents, than in Europe, where only 42% thought this was an inspiration. Some 69% of would-be buyers in the Middle East/Africa were motivated by status, while those in North America (51%) and Latin America (49%) were rather less bothered with this.

Utilitarian needs also featured highly in Asia-Pacific (69%) but North American buyers were most exercised by these (71%). At the other end of the scale Latin American consumers were least concerned about utility (44%). Those in Europe and the Middle East/Africa scored the same (56%) on this sentiment.

Pat Gardiner, president of Nielsen Automotive, observed that automaker were well aware of the power of emotional connections for car buyers, "but the key is making sure these messages are clear and resonate through their campaigns to the right audience," he said.

So, for example, where consumers were driven by status, then sales efforts centred on the luxury car market should be a priority focus.

Nielsen's research also showed that nearly half (46%) of respondents found automotive advertising via websites was "very helpful" when considering the purchase of a new car, compared with 42% who said the same about advertising on TV, followed by 32% for magazines, 29% for newspapers, 21% for mobile and 20% for radio ads.

Brand websites were considered by far the most informative (65%), well ahead of professional product review websites (41%), other third-party informational sites (38%) and dealer websites (38%).

One-third (34%) of global respondents also said they found social media sites most helpful, while 23% preferred video sites with product demonstrations.

Data sourced from BusinessWire; additional content by Warc staff