Starcount: Why e-cars are a tech sell, not a green purchase

David Reed, director of research and editor-in-chief, DataIQ

Despite the apparently green credentials of battery-powered cars, only 14% of their audience are motivated by an environmental mindset. By contrast, 56% of those following e-car brands are tech savvy. The findings come from a study by Starcount, “Bringing the automotive customer into the boardroom”, which sets out to demonstrate how brand owners can understand the underlying interests of their marketplace and better orient their communications towards them.

Starcount automotive radial chart


“We are excited because the data allows us to understand what matters most to people based on what they spend their time on, not their money,” said chief scientist Clive Humby at a launch of the report today. He noted that, while conventional loyalty schemes reveal functional loyalty, mining social media reveals consumers’ emotional loyalty.

To build this picture, Starcount took data on 11,211,082 consumers in the UK from The Observatory, its database of over 1 billion consumers globally. It then identified an audience for automotive interests of 1,143,358 individuals which was segmented into six mindsets: money saving, family values, car enthusiasts, affluent, environment, tech savvy. 

Across the full database, Starcount has identified 400 passions that matter to people. “People don’t just have one mindset, they can be across several,” pointed out Humby. This can be seen in the fact that the family values and affluent mindsets have 22,000 people in common, for example.

Although the male-female split of consumers with an interest in automotive was 65-35, the largest mindset emerged as the female-dominated family values, making up 31.7% of the 1.1 million sample and comprising 68% women. By contrast, the tech savvy mindset is 75% male and makes up 29.7% of the sample. 

Each of these mindsets contains indications of the passion points for the individuals within them, from the media titles they prefer and the influencers (bloggers, vloggers, celebrities) they trust, through to where they shop and what their major interests are. “Being relevant is the big challenge for marketers - it is the only thing you have in a disrupted market,” said Humby.

Automotive consultant Patrick Hoy noted that, “many of today’s car buyers are males aged over 40 and they are on the edge of social media. They stick to their preferred factors and brands. But current social media users will become the major car buyers in the next ten years. If dealers can get on top of that, it will future-proof their business.”

This is the benefit which Starcount argued can be gained from tapping into its social media insights. By aligning the brand and its marketing strategy to mindsets, it will resonate better with its audience. Said Humby: “Buying decisions are based on the things you choose to follow. The issues that matter to you and which celebrities you pick up off the ‘shelf’ and put into your social basket - those things define you.”

Building the mindsets makes use of graph theory to examine 36 billion connections in the data between people, brands, sites and interests. The way these accumulate around nodes demonstrates the level of interest - scored plus or minus three - and also reveals the key influencers that marketers should seek to persuade.

Edwina Dunn, CEO of Starcount, argued that the data is able to reveal something which has never been visible before: “It is about harnessing the silent majority - the people who consume most without saying anything.” By tracking shifts in interests and mindset, the company says it becomes possible to predict the moment when individuals are thinking of making a purchase. Clients of the company can match their customer data to The Observatory and fine tune their strategies to take advantage of these moments of truth as a result. 




Director of research and editor-in-chief, DataIQ
An expert commentator on all things data, David has been editor of DataIQ since its inception in 2011.

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