Are you an Alpha?

June 16, 2005
Think of them as the 800-pound gorillas of the automotive market or, if you prefer, the lead dog marking his territory. The animal world is filled with alpha males, and occasionally the alpha females, so it's probably no surprise to find them populating the automotive world, as well. So goes a new study, anyway, from Forrester Research. This work-in-progress went searching for the sort of folks who seem to dominate every conversation when the topic is cars and who, in the process, disproportionately steer car buying decisions.

According to Forrester analyst Mark Dixon Bunger, a whopping 21 percent of respondents declared themselves automotive "enthusiasts," while 9 percent were self-described "strong enthusiasts." Now, that doesn't necessarily mean they are the ones rushing out to buy the latest Bentley, Corvette or Dodge Charger. In fact, enthusiasts come in every shape and size, never mind age and income level. The one minor exception: gender. Women account for only slightly more than one in four of these Alpha car buyers, Bunger noted, or 11 percent of all motorists. But he agrees that the number has likely been rising over the years -- just check out that woman in the hot car flashing her lights to pass you.

Alpha buyers are tech savvy, and "tech optimists," Forrester found. If you're reading this page, you're very likely one of them. A whopping 83 percent said they read automotive websites, compared to the non-enthusiast. And alphas will check the Internet all the time, not just when they're looking to buy. They are quick to spread the word once they find something interesting, so if you're an industry marketer, you "have to get good at spotting these Alphas," stressed Bunger. Spend all you want on advertising, but these folks will do a much better job by word-of-mouth.

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