Porsche Automobil Holding SE, usually referred to as Porsche and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, usually called BMW are both German automobile and engine manufacturing companies based out of Germany. BMW is known for its luxury cars, its big engines and motorcycles while Porsche is famous for its sports cars, of which the 911 is a famous variant. However BMW does offer a sports car category and in turn, Porsche has a few automobiles under its luxury SUV offering.
Social Media Summary
A summary of the social media channels that Porsche and BMW are active in is shown below:
Porsche ranks among those rare car companies (along the lines of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce etc.) that don’t really require social media engagement to sell their products. The typical Porsche buyer is a male between the ages of 30 and 60, makes between $150,000 and $300,000 and will happily (sometimes grudgingly) pay the price Porsche demands. The cheapest Porsche car starts out at around $55,000 and Porsche makes cars that cost up to $850,000.
BMW on the other hand has SKUs that start out around $29,000 and keep going till the $125,000 mark. BMW has considerable competition from Audi, Mercedes Benz, Acura and Lexus and hence needs to engage considerably in advertising and social media engagement. In contrast, when was the last time any of you saw an advertisement for Porsche 911 or a Porsche Cayman on the television?
Social Media Channels
Across the board, both companies have a very active social presence across Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Of these, Twitter is more popular with male business professionals than Facebook is and that might explain why Porsche seems to be more involved in this channel.. On the other hand, 20 somethings are more likely to spend time with Facebook and Tumblr. This can be directly attributed to the target segments mentioned above.
What stands out from the above table is that Porsche seems to have an edge with its Pinterest presence and a heavier Instagram following and neither social media channels are what Porsche’s primary customer usually looks at. This can be attributed to either a paid social media channel promotion or people who are not necessarily interested in purchasing a Porsche but would still like to be in the social media engagement circles as Porsche makes good looking cars.
In 2013, BMW branded vehicle sales totaled 309, 280 and including the 66,502 units sold by MINI, the number of units comes to 375, 782. Porsche on the other hand sold around 42,323 units. However, Porsche rakes in a little over €23,000 on every Porsche sold and BMW scrapes by with around €2,475. So who’s winning? Porsche is by a factor of 10.
So even though they seem rather evenly matched in the terms of social media engagement (and BMW has an edge in most of the channels), when it comes to sales figures, Porsche has a significant lead over BMW. Are Porsche’s healthy profit margins a result of their active social media engagement? Perhaps. Would BMW’s thin margins be thinner if it weren’t for social media? Probably. However both car companies realize that need for active engagement and interaction through various social media channels.
Finally BMW and Porsche vehicles are more than just automobiles. They are a way of life for many people. You can buy a Ford or a FIAT or a Honda and eventually get from point A to point B or you can ride in a BMW M3 or a Porsche 911 4S and arrive there knowing you are the kind of person who makes awesome life-choices, every single time. Both companies offer iconic cars and each of their cars have a very loyal fan base and multiple websites / forums where enthusiasts, potential car buyers and the otherwise curious, congregate. Some of the more popular forums are listed below:
- Rennlist: http://forums.rennlist.com/rennforums
- 6speedonline: http://www.6speedonline.com/forums/
- Planet-9: http://www.planet-9.com/
- Roadfly: http://www.roadfly.com/porsche/forums/
- German Auto Forums: http://www.germanautoforums.com/forum/
- BimmerFest: https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/
- E90Post: http://www.e90post.com/forums/
- North American Motoring: http://www.northamericanmotoring.com/
In addition to the dozens of such forums, there are hundreds of regional car enthusiast websites for each brand. When you add up each of the number of registered users and forums posts on all those forums, we are looking at hundreds of thousands of posts from thousands of users. How much is either company spending to drive this avenue of advertising? In most cases, neither company spends a single cent.
Finally a couple of videos that epitomize both brands:
- Porsche vs BMW margins: http://forums.beyond.ca/showthread/t-163211.html
- Porsche and BMW sales: http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1089480_mercedes-edges-out-bmw-for-2013-u-s-luxury-car-sales-crown