Car culture has EXPLODED on social media, which, from a marketing perspective, creates an exceptional opportunity for co-branding. For those unfamiliar with the term, co-branding is how companies can ride other popular brands for mutual branding success.
Indirectly, social media plays a role in the relationship between car culture and co-branding. After all, this is where people talk about all things car culture, including their favorite ride stories. In fact, when you think about it, a strong social media presence is an excellent platform for other companies to build relationships with popular car and truck brands. However, rather than hoping for some accidental good press, it’s probably a good idea to be intentional and work with a social media management company like Social Vantage to make the co-branding association appear more organic.
What is Co-Branding?
Co-branding is a way for one brand to partner with another company in another industry to appeal to a particular psychographic and demographic population. When it comes to cars, people who are interested in them generally tend to be male, like an assortment of alcoholic beverages, and have an interest in male cosmetics and fashion. In other words, if you think of a piece of advertisement as a type of conversation between a seller and a buyer, then you can talk about a certain car along with a consumer product the driver might enjoy.
One of the more obvious examples is Uber, which is strongly associated with Prius. When you call for an Uber, chances are high that a Prius will come to pick you up. This is not a coincidence. It’s a win-win situation for all parties: riders, Uber, and Toyota. In an interview with the British news site about the growing influence of Uber in the UK, The Tab, an Uber spokesman said, “Around 40% of cars on the platform are a Prius.” Author Jack Cummings analyzes what this means: first, out of a million Uber drivers, 400,000 drive a Prius; second, this volume of cars accounts for 1% of the worldwide sales of the Prius.
Another example is between BMW and Louis Vuitton luggage. They have created a four-piece set of luggage that fits perfectly in the trunk and rear passenger seat area. It also matches the color scheme and is made with carbon fiber for durability and to match the car. This allows both brands to get exposure from the other’s marketing dollars.
The Golden Age of Cars
This decline of interest in buying cars is still something of a shock to the automotive industry because cars have played a significant factor in American life for centuries. In the early 1900s, they were considered toys for the rich and famous. But Henry Ford changed all that–his Model-T made cars affordable for the middle class. This sudden availability started America’s famous love affair with cars. In the 1950s, teenagers in the post-war boom saw cars as a reflection of their rugged independence. The car was seen as an extension of identity, and a young man with a muscle car gained social prestige as he showed off his cars style, speed, and raw power on the open streets. Even courtship was associated with cars, and dates included movies at the local drive-in.
Art imitates life, and it wasn’t long before the car became celebrated in songs and movies. James Dean’s mythos was closely associated with the automotive industry. The rebel without a cause showed his disdain for the establishment by riding a motorbike and died young driving a muscle car too fast.
The Crisis In Car Culture
Although car culture appears to be part of the fabric of American life, because cars have been on America’s streets and highways for more than a 100 years, interest in cars is waning among millennials. According to a news release by US PIRG, a consumer group that studies major trends, the average American is driving less. Leading the way are younger Americans who are walking and biking more, taking mass transit, and choosing to live in urban areas and close-knit communities where driving is no longer necessary.
The news brief suggests five possible reasons for this trend:
- Socioeconomic changes
- Lifestyle changes
- Changing technology and access to alternative transportation options
- State governments adopting graduated driver licensing requirements
- Colleges and universities reducing the number of students allowed to have cars on campus
Reviving Car Culture via Social Media
Co-branding is an attempt by car manufacturers to revive some of the romance, and social media is their most influential platform to associate cars with other popular brands. In an interconnected world that’s always online, social media campaigns are seen as an effective strategy to woo car culture from a niche interest to a mainstream affair.