Growing Anti-SUV Sentiment Sends Warning To Automakers
Indeed, anti-SUV feelings are particularly strong among non-SUV owners, under-25 drivers and older drivers, with growing numbers of consumers expressing interest in alternative-fuel vehicles, according to a survey and analysis by PlanetFeedback, a Cincinnati firm specializing in real-time consumer insights and online discussion monitoring.
"Clearly, there's rough terrain ahead for auto manufacturers and SUV owners," said Pete Blackshaw, founder and chief marketing officer at PlanetFeedback. "The very consumers who shape and influence opinions are raising concerns, and the auto industry would be wise to stay tuned to the pulse of the consumer marketplace to stay competitive and relevant."
PlanetFeedback collected the data by analyzing thousands of SUV-related messages and postings on public Internet discussion boards and by surveying nearly 1,800 consumers identified as influential because of their online activity and tendency to spread their opinions to others. Among the findings:
* 27% of the survey respondents said anti-SUV publicity campaigns are justified, such as those by The Detroit Project that link SUV ownership with foreign-oil dependence and the support of terrorism in oil-rich countries. Support was highest among under-25 drivers and those over 55. * 20% of all consumers polled (slightly more men than women) said they would rethink their plans to purchase an SUV based on the negative publicity. * Importantly, while most SUV owners are unsympathetic to negative campaigns, 10% said they would rethink their purchase behavior because of the anti-SUV publicity. "The switching behavior of existing SUV drivers is sure to have most noticeable impact on other drivers, in that current SUV owners have credibility with the issue and relevant experience with these vehicles," Blackshaw said. * About one-third of survey respondents (owners and non-owners alike) support the development of alternative-fuel vehicles, including gas-electric hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell SUVs. Support is highest among 19-24-year-olds.
PlanetFeedback will host an online seminar ("webinar") on its SUV study 4-5 p.m. on Thursday, March 13. In addition, the report, "Rough Terrain Ahead for SUVs," is for sale to interested buyers. Webinar registration is available online at http://biz.planetfeedback.com/bizsite/pressevents_events.jsp . To register by phone, or for more information about the report, call 1-800-333-3222 (1-800-FEEDBACK).
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