The BMW trash talk ad is signal virtue signalling to tomorrow’s customers

For the past few days my Twitter feed has been full of Trump. Reprieve came yesterday when a post was made by the only other organisation with views more divisive than Trump – the marketing department at BMW.

The video is here: https://www.bmw.com/en/events/ces/2cars.html

I’ve looked at the resulting tweets and at a range of average age data. Brief summary of data;

Twitter Usage

“Twitter is most popular among younger people. As of Q2 2018, 33 percent of respondents, who stated that they visited or used Twitter, were between 15 and 24 years old”

“The smallest proportion of Twitter users was in the age group of people who were 45-54 years of age” 

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/278320/age-distribution-of-twitter-users-in-great-britain/

Facebook Usage

“Teens and young adults are ditching Mark Zuckerberg’s social network as popularity among the over-55s surges”

“A surge in older users means over-55s will become the second-biggest demographic of Facebook users this year”

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/feb/12/is-facebook-for-old-people-over-55s-flock-in-as-the-young-leave

BMW Owners

US data – “Buyers of new BMWs owners tend to be older than the general population. Our data shows that the median age of a new BMW owner is 56 years old”

Source: https://hedgescompany.com/blog/2019/03/new-bmw-owner-demographics/

UK data – 54.3% of BMW ‘fans’ are aged over 45. 18.5% are aged 45-54 and 35.8% are 55+ 

Source: https://screen.yougov.com/audience/dashboard/61de065e89621d20732d6fa0097931c233c415a9/default_view

Generation Z

Gen Z (those born after 1995) are more likely to desire an electric car and influence the buying decisions of their parents.

Source: https://carbuzz.com/news/generation-z-want-their-parents-to-buy-electric-cars

So wrapping all of that up I can only assume that BMW acted on the assumption that the people that sign the cheques (or more likely the finance agreement) to actually buy their cars wouldn’t be that likely to see the video.

It would be more probable to be viewed by someone younger than a typical buyer who could either influence someone older who would buy a new BMW, or it could be a case of BMW aiming to engage with customers of the future.

Incidentally, as a result of researching the relationship between classic car ownership and millennials for 18 months I urged the parties that I engaged with to follow a similar path – start advertising now for customers in ten years time. I believe that this is what the traditional (non-modern classic) sector needs.

In the short term, this doesn’t make sense and I was often told “I’ll be retired by then” but BMW is playing the long game. It has been operating for over 100 years so will no doubt have a longer time horizon.

The theory that the Twitter video was not meant to reach possible owners over the age of 45 years old is supported bay the video that BMW posted to Facebook, a platform more likely to be frequented by older users / actual buyers, a shorter snippet of the same video.

It is 32 seconds long, rather than four minutes, doesn’t bash ICE cars and doesn’t shame existing owners.

So, if you’re over 45 years old, buy new BMW cars and use Twitter you are possibly a statistical anomaly.

Published by Mark Tofts

Freelance consultant working on business concept design and research projects with an interest in all thing automotive.

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