Illustration of an aerial shot of people gathered to make the shape of a car

There’s a new appetite for membership clubs as a way of connecting with a highly passionate audience - and car membership clubs are in a great position to capitalise on this new trend.

With developments in audience behaviour and post-Covid changes, there’s an increasing reason to see these types of business as an emerging opportunity for the people that run them.

For these people, the combination of the real world and digital can provide the perfect environment to engage, foster and monetise these passionate audiences.

We wanted to explore this area further to support our clients and wanted to see how data could inform our knowledge for our clients.

We used Audiense, which uses social data to provide audience analysis, to look at the communities around 15 branded car clubs or ones celebrating marques to understand characteristics, interests and buying mindsets the users of these groups have.

Check out our blog on using social media listening tools to understand audience behaviour and so create relevant content.

Car clubs and membership communities

Car clubs have a very special place in the hearts of their members.

For many car owners, we can see that cars provide a functional solution to travel needs and so, for many, there’s no particular thrill in engaging with the brand, its marketing or even purchasing one. Check out our Automotive Report for insight on the car user journey.

However, for enthusiasts the opposite is true, their choice of car is an important part of their identity and self-image.

We can see this reflected in the Audience data; users are congregating around the most iconic brands like Mini, Ferrari, MG, BMW, Porsche and Alfa Romeo and key aspects of the driving experience like motorsports and classic cars. Often a key part of their interest is the brand itself, what it represents as well as the design.

In car membership clubs, we see evidence of true brand communities, where members have a shared passion and goals but often have other similar interests that connect them. These interests can of course provide vital information for editorial and advertising teams.

Naturally, for the right type of car brand, a members club is the perfect forum to connect with the most engaged audiences, drive loyalty and breed word of mouth.

And for relevant businesses and advertisers, it’s a natural place to start and continue any conversation as any message is likely to be more welcome here in this engaged community than in other types of media.

Car clubs, content, manuals and print

If we refer to the Audiense data, we can see that this car club audience is interested in anything and everything car-related. Of course, they are.

But compared to the UK at large, this audience is more likely to connect around the following; car brands, automotive media like Classic Cars, automotive experts and media personalities like Chris Harris, James May and Richard Hammond as well as racing drivers like Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. These types of interest can obviously spark great editorial ideas.

But when we look at the audience and what else they’re interested in, we can see other opportunities for unique content creation. As a whole, this audience’s top three interests are sports (rugby, football, cricket), science (engineering, weather and physics) and travel (transport, hotels and tourist destinations), indicating that where these subjects intersect with their favourite car brands may be a particularly rich vein of content to exploit.

This is a generalisation, of course, looking at the summation of data across all of the 15 membership clubs, but if we drill down into the data, certain marques will inspire their audiences in different ways meaning that music or tech may become more important for their members. Which needs to be reflected in the content, events and advertising.

Car clubs and advertising

Obviously, events hosted by the car club as well as online and print content can affect the types of relationship any of the car membership clubs have with advertisers, sponsors and companies who can help generate interest and revenue for these organisations.

Again, it pays to look at the data and understand this audience’s behaviour. These audiences are much more likely to be on LinkedIn WhatsApp, Twitter, Reddit and Pinterest than users in the UK as a whole.

Audiense data also allows us to understand their buying mindset.

Compared to the rest of the UK, these people are much more like to be influenced by both brand name (50.21% vs 41.61%) and product utility (40.01% vs 29.46%), meaning these are the key messages that need to be dialled up in any promotions to the membership club audience.

Although car club membership may not necessarily be perceived as contemporary or even as the domain of Jeremy Clarkson-alikeys, viewing these organisations through the lens of a brand community, it’s possible to see how this valuable group of automotive fans can be nurtured to not only drive repeat sales and spread word of mouth but also generate valuable advertising and sponsorship revenue.

Check out our work with Porsche Club.

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