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Portrait of an Auto Enthusiast

Robert Einaudi
Portrait of an Auto Enthusiast Robert Einaudi

Who are auto enthusiasts? Forget the meathead stereotype. The auto enthusiast is a large and diverse group with one simple thing in common: a passion for cars!

The internet has transformed the world of the auto enthusiast. The online world contains a wealth of information for this dedicated audience, from breaking industry news to offering detailed instructions on vehicle modification to racing coverage to reviews of car audio and video upgrades. More importantly, from a marketing perspective, online auto enthusiasts are an active and engaged group, and they spend a lot of their free (and work) time on auto enthusiast websites.

So what does the online automotive enthusiast demographic look like? Recent Nielsen numbers indicate that auto enthusiasts are 66 percent male, and are more than twice as likely to be between ages 18 and 34 when compared to the average online audience. Online auto enthusiasts are also almost twice as likely to be males in the 55 to 64 age range.

Earnings are distributed evenly across the board, and reflective of the population as a whole. You'll find 31 percent in the $50 to 75k range and 25 percent in the $75K to $100K range.

Auto enthusiasts are educated: 70 percent have at least some college and 24 percent have a bachelors or advanced degree.

One thing that stands out is that fact that online auto enthusiasts are almost four times as likely to be in the military, compared to the average online audience. If you want to reach the military audience, you should be on auto enthusiast sites.

In terms of geography, auto enthusiasts are more than three times as likely to be in the Northeast. The South Atlantic also seems to have a disproportionate number of car nuts. Otherwise, they are spread quite evenly across the nation.

Auto enthusiasts don't just care about cars. They're also heavily into music, video games, sports and electronics. According to Nielsen, 86 percent of online auto enthusiasts visit music sites like iTunes.com; 85 percent visit video and movie sites like Youtube.com; 70 percent visit sports sites like ESPN.com; 60 percent visit online game sites like Gamespot.com; 46 percent visit gambling/sweepstakes sites like Partypoker.com. And they love eBay: 85 percent of online auto enthusiasts visit this popular online auction site.

You'll also find many auto enthusiasts on the large social networking websites. Nielsen found that 70 percent spend a lot of time on MySpace, which has over 3,000 automotive groups. The largest of these groups claim over 50,000 members!

Truly dedicated automotive enthusiasts spend a lot of time on small niche automotive sites and forums, which claim a very engaged and loyal membership. These sites are generally run by small webmasters and have a grassroots look and feel. The knowledgeable and passionate users who live on these sites create rich and diverse content.

As auto enthusiast sites become increasingly sophisticated with video, tagging, better content management and new social networking tools, user engagement and activity will continue to increase. Expect the online automotive space to grow exponentially in coming years, and continue to attract a large and passionate audience.

Robert Einaudi is the director of Inside Track, a research division of CarDomain Network, Inc. Rob lives in Seattle, Washington and drives a pavement thumping, gas guzzling 1966 Plymouth Satellite. .


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