The rsquo14 Buick LaCrosse with Forward Collision Alert cautions of a slowmoving vehicle ahead

The ’14 Buick LaCrosse with Forward Collision Alert cautions of a slow-moving vehicle ahead.

Safety Features Most Relevant to Car Buyers, Survey Shows

Luxury buyers and consumers of volume brands alike value safety over other vehicle attributes, according to a recent study.

Safety, not fuel economy, is top of mind for the majority of automotive consumers’ minds, according to a national study.

Although fuel economy often is touted by automakers as the No.1 purchase consideration, Phoenix Marketing International research indicates recent ads from major brands such as Chevrolet, Infiniti and Mercedes were found most compelling by consumers when they demonstrated the vehicle’s safety features.

“Safety is a theme we’ve seen consistently in the last few years that manufacturers are utilizing to great impact,” Brian Maraone, vice president of Phoenix Marketing International’s automotive team, tells WardsAuto.

The study found both print and television ads are most effective when they don’t just talk about safety, but demonstrate it in a way that appeals to viewers’ emotions.

Maraone points to a recent spot for the Infiniti JX CUV that shows the vehicle backing out of a driveway and stopping automatically when it senses a child on a bike behind it.

“The combination of safety and technology works extremely well, particularly with that campaign,” he says. “Relevant ads show how a vehicle or feature will impact (customers).”

The survey also takes into account whether the ads are for a volume brand such as Chevrolet or a luxury marque like Mercedes. While there are some differences in luxury- and non-luxury consumer preferences, safety is important to both groups.

Luxury customers prize safety, performance, technology and other features in that order, while non-luxury buyers place most importance on safety, followed by fuel economy and value.

“Safety crosses over both (customer groups) and performs very well,” Maraone says, noting the feature is equally important to males and females and across various ethnic groups.

There is no clear-cut indicator as to which safety feature resonates best with consumers, although blind-spot detectors appear to be popular, he says.

Ads featuring celebrities, if the spokesperson fits the storyline, are relatable and engaging, Maraone says.

“If it’s not relevant to the audience, it becomes a bit of the distraction,” he says. “The more polarizing the celebrity, the worse the ad’s results will be.”

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