What Can Weather Tell You About Electric Vehicle Buyers? A Lot!

By Ali Gwin

Seems like everybody is checking out electric vehicles (EV).  According to the International Energy Agency, EV sales doubled in 2021 from the previous year to a new record of 6.6 million. Global sales of electric cars are rising strongly in 2022, with 2 million sold in Q1, up 75% from the same period in 2021.*

“It’s really striking that, even though everyone saw electric coming for a long, long time, no one was really messaging it at any scale,” EDO president and CEO Kevin Krim said in a recent Bloomberg article (opens outside ibm.com), “until suddenly you don’t have any conventional cars, so you might as well sell the future.”

IBM Watson Advertising surveyed over 5,800 users of The Weather Channel (TWC) app to better understand their preferences and concerns around EVs.

Here are the top 3 takeaways:

The Weather Channel app users are much more likely to consider EVs

According to survey results, 28% of TWC app users say they’re likely to purchase a hybrid or EV in the next 12 months. That’s 3x higher than the percentage of EV intenders among the general population, which is typically 9%. 

Some 60% of survey respondents are planning to purchase a new vehicle and 16% say they will do so within the next 12 months. But many of these intenders haven’t made their minds up about which EV they’ll buy. Based on survey results, TWC estimates that around 21 million of our app users are actively researching hybrid/EV vehicles. That’s roughly equivalent to the population of the state of Florida.

This means that right now is a unique opportunity for auto brands to connect with and influence interested consumers during moments in which they’re likely making decisions. Once you have earned these consumers’ business, you may have a customer for life: 48% of users say they are loyal to vehicle brands and tend to stick with them.

EV intenders’ concerns go beyond the environment

According to our survey, EV intenders’ top reason for choosing a hybrid or EV is overwhelmingly the perception that these cars are environmentally friendly (78%). This should come as no surprise as 85% of consumers have reportedly shifted their purchase behaviors to being more sustainable in the past five years.**

But EV intenders aren’t only concerned with the environment. Some 36% of intenders also reported that advanced tech features will impact their buying decision. Along with environmental concerns, these tech features are particularly important to Generation Z. They’re also thinking about how they can benefit from tax credits when making a purchase.

Price, fuel efficiency, safety and maintenance cost remain top factors for consumers when choosing a new vehicle, regardless of their interest in hybrid or electric options.

Go deeper by reading our infographic on this valuable car-buying segment.

There’s plenty of opportunity for auto brands to educate the market

Many consumers have lingering questions and concerns regarding hybrids and EVs. TWC users are interested to learn about maintenance costs (46%), charging concerns (42%) and driving quality (31%).

There’s also hesitancy about the purchasing process:

  • 25% of respondents reported concerns about price.
  • 17% said they’re confused about tax credits.
  • 15% are worried that a lack of inventory might leave them waiting several months for their new car. 

Four recommendations for engaging EV intenders

To address these hesitancies, marketers must ensure they’re providing easy ways for consumers to connect with brands, ask important questions and educate themselves at every step along the buying journey. Here are four ways brands can better understand, educate and connect with EV intenders at scale.

1. Meet EV intenders in the moments that matter

As one of 2022’s most trusted US brands (opens outside ibm.com), and with more than 3x the average percentage of EV intenders, TWC can work with you to authentically connect with real, engaged electric intenders during their daily decision-making moments and tell your story at scale whenever and wherever your audience is most engaged.

2. Use weather data signals to your brand’s advantage

Weather impacts consumer behaviors, including whether consumers are in the mood to visit a dealership. According to Businesswire, “EV intenders…show a keen interest in making the car dealer experience a core part of their information-gathering, shopping and decision-making processes.” And weather has the highest impact among various factors for when EV intenders decide to take a test drive.

One client used IBM Watson Advertising Weather Targeting to automatically trigger ads when weather conditions were likely to increase outdoor activity and, consequently, automobile consideration. When optimal conditions were present in a specific area, these geo-targeted ads were delivered on the Integrated Marquee on TWC app, ultimately increasing click-through rates by 42% and reducing cost per site visit by 4x versus benchmarks.

3. Tailor your ads for different audience segments

Brands need to present the most effective message, which won’t be the same for each person. Another brand implemented IBM Watson Advertising Accelerator, which uses AI to learn the critical nuances for reaching different audiences and decide which creative elements would best resonate with each segment.

The technology automatically served ads that shifted messaging, images and colors based on what was most likely to increase engagement for each user, ultimately increasing conversion rates by 118%.

4. Connect at scale without sacrificing personalization

Consumers demand personalized experiences that address their specific concerns and concerns on demand and on their terms.

IBM Watson Advertising Conversations enabled Toyota to engage in real-time 1:1 chat with thousands of consumers through AI-driven dynamic ads across TWC app and weather.com, as well as across the ad ecosystem. Natural language processing technology allowed consumers to ask questions in everyday language and receive relevant answers.

The campaign drove 156,000 unique user sessions, 250,000 total engagements and 2.9x more time spent in the ad units when compared to Google Rich Media interaction rate benchmarks. The solution also enabled Toyota to uncover insights into what drives consumer decisions.

Read the case study.

Be among the first to connect with an eager new market

As all major automotive manufacturers come to market with some version of an EV, marketers must differentiate their brands with personalized experiences that deliver real value to consumers in the moments that matter. With a little help from IBM Watson Advertising, connecting with EV intenders can be as easy as talking about the weather.

Get to know EV intenders even better by reading our infographic.

Ready to get started? Schedule a meeting with us today to discuss how you can build a consultative, holistic EV strategy together with IBM Watson Advertising.

 

Sources

* “Global EV Outlook 2022,” IEA, May 2022.

** "Recent Study Reveals More Than a Third of Global Consumers Are Willing to Pay More for Sustainability as Demand Grows for Environmentally-Friendly Alternatives,” Business Wire, October 14, 2021