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Can Dealers Use Targeted Online Discounts To Develop Better Customer Relationships?

New Report Shows That Discounts and Freebies by Business Are Creating Stronger Relationships With Customers Who Are Online Followers...

Seventy percent (7 in 10) of American consumers who follow a business or brand online (including car dealerships) say that they want to stay more connected to the company (dealership) when they offer them coupons, discounts and free products.
This analysis is based on survey results from the latest research from the Ipsos "Open Thinking Exchange".
American consumers seem particularly obsessed with cost savings, such as discount coupons for routine scheduled maintenance, such as oil and filter changes, tire rotation, AC system check ups, wheel alignments, replacement tires, etc. According to the Ipsos study: American automotive consumers are 40% more likely than the 24-country average to say that dealerships, car companies and brands that send them coupons for discounts or free products make them want to stay more connected with that company's online social media profiles, blogs, channels and accounts in the form of subscriptions, fans, likes, follows, etc.
This analysis is also supported by my own personal and direct experience over the past few years with social media based advertising... While trying to drive new car sales can be frustrating, similar campaigns that focused on service department special offers, tire replacements and such were far more successful. In one case we ran a "Buy 3 Tires - Get the 4th for Free" Facebook Deal for a Toyota dealership. The store had over 200 customers redeem the Facebook Deal and private offer for tires during the 60 day campaign. 


Within the portion of the study focused on US consumers, discounts and free products prove far more attractive to women than men (82% vs. 57%), although the data is derived from a small sample (<100).


A similar gender gap in the survey's data remains true across the 24 countries surveyed, though to a lesser degree. On average, 56% of female respondents said that companies and brands which send them coupons for product discounts or free products make them want to stay connected to that company and/or brand online. This compares to an overall number of 45% for male respondents from all countries.

Surprisingly, at least to me, the study shows not much variation in response when we sort those responses by average household income... There was only a 5% range between high and low income brackets. This would seem to indicate that upscale car buyers and vehicle owners appreciate soupons, discounts and freebies as much as lower income automotive consumers. From personal experience, if those high incomes automotive consumers surveyed were attorneys and college professors the results would have shown even less of a difference!

When separating the survey results by marital status and education levels, the same lack of variance shows up... People like coupons, discounts and private offers regardless of age, income, marital status or political party.  This is probably not too surprising for many of us, so why are dealers not taking advantage of tools such as Facebook Deals and Twitter Offers for followers?

The study also cites a couple of groups that seemed to have a much higher-than-average likelihood of responding favorably to discounts and gifts from dealerships, car companies and brands:

  • Unemployed (53%)
  • Under 35 Years Old (52%)

Not surprising to me, people identifying themselves as chief income earners, business owners, senior executives and decision-makers were less likely than the average respondent to be influenced by these types of coupon, discount and targeted offer strategies.

While the Ipsos study does not go into much detail or describe exactly what is meant by “following brands online,” I will bet money and feel confident that they are referring to consumers following, subscribing, liking and connecting with companies and brands on social media... Including car dealerships! This has been the case with several previous Ipsos surveys.

In support of the analysis and conclusions that car dealers can take away from the Ipsos study I am referring to, there is also another recent study from PricewaterhouseCoopers which found that among American consumers, including vehicle buyers and service department customers, social media users are attracted to companies, dealerships and brands’ social media presence primarily by deals, promotions, and discount offers (sales).

About the Data: The Ipsos data is based on a total of 4,840 adults across 24 countries who follow brands online. Respondents were aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and 16-64 in all other countries. The survey was conducted from December 4-18, 2012.

The countries reporting were: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the US.

Data Source:

Views: 561

Tags: Business, Creating, Customers, Discounts, Facebook, Followers, Freebies, New Report, Online, Stronger Relationships, More…Twitter, analysis, content marketing, social media


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Comment by Big Tom LaPointe on February 21, 2013 at 7:08pm

great insight here. interesting that more than half of the bargain-chasers are unemployed - perhaps not an immediate target market for car dealers. and regardless how they fill out a survey, I Know MANY MANY executives who chase hard-core bargains.

Having been involved with web design and marketing for going on 20 years, I have always used my own shopping habits as a benchmark for creative and effective marketing - so many businesses through the years have mistakenly invested in web gimmicks that impressed them as the website OWNER, rather than looking at it through the eyes of the consumer - ergo the rise and (thankful) fall of flash intros.

Looking at this with my own shopping habits in mind, nearly daily I check out several sites for their KRAZY DEAL OF THE DAY, from Best Buy to music and computer equipment, and even, I want a deal.

For a business to be able to cut through the social marketing clutter and SPAM, they MUST offer SOMETHING. But it isn't really feasible to offer a free ipad every day. But they CAN have a special of the WEEK - an aging used car unit at a loss-leader price, former demo at an amazing lease price, parts overstock in the boutique, a super windshield wiper special, or whatever. anything to REengage the customer and give them a reason to check back in. IMHO, of course

Comment by Mathew Koenig on February 20, 2013 at 6:38pm

Great article. It seems like common sense right? When shopping for a car if there are two dealers a consumer is considering and one offers an incentive while the other one doesn't - who would you choose?

The challenge to consider is when to offer the customer an incentive.

Many of us offer an incentive during negotiation, when the customer is at the dealership, but we're missing a huge opportunity! Let's face it - a new Honda Accord will cost roughly the same amount of money from dealer A as it will from dealer B down the road. When a consumer is shopping, they are only doing it once every few years so they will invest the time to dig a little to see if they can get something special to "wow" them.

Customer service will make a difference too, it isn't just the incentive, but let's assume both dealers are great at serving the shopper. What's the deal breaker?

One possibility is to offer the incentive, and the 'we're great and easy to buy from' experience while customers are still mid-funnel on sites like, and

This is why (shameless plug) we brought AutoCaptureto market. We have dealers who are doing amazing because they're engaging the consumer before that shopper emails or calls anyone! With our product a consumer that's browsing the classified sites will see the dealer's call to action, and instantly receive an incentive from that dealer by doing nothing more than sending a text message.

Within 60 seconds our dealer has the lead so they can call the customer and be the first dealer to: 

Give an incentive

Offer to help

Put a voice with a dealership name

The big value is being able to be the FIRST to actually SPEAK to the consumer while their competitors are playing 'email tag'.

Incentives are an awesome way to open a door well before they're even knocking at your competition's door.

Helping the best get better,

Mat Koenig

Learn more about AutoCapture at

Comment by Roosevelt Gist on February 20, 2013 at 6:11pm

Timely article. We are reading for release an easy to use product that does that for dealers. Stay tuned.

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