Brand Awareness? It’s Elementary: Part II

By Charles Krome

(This column is dedicated to Ms. P. and her amazing class of fifth-grade students. Thanks!)

As I mentioned in my last piece, I recently had an opportunity to visit two local elementary-school classes to find out what tomorrow’s vehicle buyers think of today’s cars and trucks. My methodology was simple: I passed out a one-question survey asking “What is your favorite car?” and then left it to the students to fill in their answers as they saw fit. I reported on the results from my third graders last time, and here are the statistics from the fifth graders.

  • Ford Mustang (including Mustang GT and “Cobra”): 7
  • Chevrolet Camaro: 5
  • Ford Taurus: 1
  • Ford Flex: 1
  • Ford Fiesta: 1
  • Corvette (including “1959 Street Cruiser Corvette with V8 and red metal-flake paint”): 2
  • Ferrari: 2
  • Mazda3: 1
  • Audi: 1
  • Jeep: 1
  • Lamborghini: 1
  • GMC Terrain: 1
  • SSC Ultimate Aero: 1

Much like the third graders, these fifth-grade students showed an overwhelming interest in Blue Oval products: Ford received 10 mentions here out of a total of 25 votes cast, an even higher percentage than seen with the younger students, who gave the automaker’s vehicles 9 votes out of a total of 30. But a key difference between the two classes is that the older kids showed nearly equal support for the Mustang’s cross-town nemesis, the Chevrolet Camaro; none of the third graders, recall, chose Chevy’s muscle car.

And that, in turn, had a big impact on GM’s overall showing. If you add in the 3 votes for the Terrain and the Corvettes, products from General Motors tallied a total of 8 mentions here as opposed to just two from the younger students.

In another contrast with the third graders, the older pupils were much more specific about the vehicles they chose. Many of the fifth graders also included colors and other details, as illustrated by the young gentleman who specified the ’59 ‘Vette (and included a picture). Thus, I also had some entries like “A blue Mustang with white pinstripes” and “Ford Fiesta. Color: Lime Squeeze.” From a marketing standpoint, the latter choice has to be considered a nice victory for the Fiesta Movement, as the ability to nail Ford’s unique color names isn’t the kind of thing every fifth grader (or adult) can do.

On the other hand, it’s notable that both classes had relatively similar results in terms of Italian supercars. The older students cast 2 votes for Ferrari and 1 for Lamborghini, while the youngsters upped that to 3 mentions of the Prancing Horse and 1 for Maserati. These numbers aren’t huge, but when you consider how little mainstream marketing those brands do, it’s still quite impressive.

Finally—and I owe a tip of the hat to Techshake reader George S. for bringing this to my attention—you’ll notice there were no mentions of any electric vehicles or hybrids from any of the students. And for the future of the industry, that’s something that needs addressing even more than “range anxiety” or price premiums.

Author: Charles Krome

Charles Krome is a long-time automotive journalist who spent more than 10 years on the inside at General Motors and Ford, and also has corporate communications experience with Audi, Porsche and BASF Automotive Refinish. As a big motorsports fan growing up in the Detroit area, Krome was lucky enough to be able to attend numerous NASCAR, Indy car, F1 and SCCA events while still in his formative years. This, combined with a childhood that included significant (passenger) seat time in cars from Lotus and Jensen Healey, made him a car guy at an earlier age. Today, he lives in metro Detroit with his car wife, raising car kids.

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1 Comment

  1. I love how Camaro got the 2nd most votes. I voted for the Camaro.

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