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More cars- Tesla vs Maserati

Like many, I was a bit surprised when I watched a 90 second Super Bowl ad not knowing up until the last 3 seconds that it’s about the Maserati Ghibli 2014. As a Super Bowl newbie (don’t judge), I thought it was a long and expensive ad, but I only realized the significance of it later: Maserati has never run any ad before in the US and the particular model, Ghibli is newly introduced in 2014 as the ‘baby-Quattroporte’, the Italian car manufacturer’s first foray into the under 100k, luxury mid/full-size category.

Although the Tesla Model S is firmly in the full-size category, the entry price points of the two cars (~$70k) and the fact that both are out of the ordinary luxury vehicles make them competitors (if you can ever call any luxury car ordinary).

Market Context

I believe Tesla needs no introduction, but it’s interesting to know that their European expansion plans are very healthy: they launched Model S in August 2013, sold about 7,000 cars since in Europe and they are aiming for 10,000 cars per year by 2015, just in Germany. Sales volume is still by far the highest in the US, but the Tesla top sales list has 10 European countries, with Norway leading from second spot.

Maserati on the other hand has 30-40% of its sales coming from the US, the rest is dispersed in various other regions, Asia and Middle East included. Said to be the rough diamond of Fiat Chrysler with great profit upside potential, Maserati now wants to capitalize on the economic upturn and the cachet of the brand by targeting a sales volume of 10,000 Ghiblis in the US for 2014. Their cheapest model thus far was the Quattroporte for a mere $102k.

Social media presence

Based on analysis from socialmention, Tesla is definitely leading in brand strength, but Maserati’s much higher passion score could mean that there’s a strong, tight advocacy group of influencers who like the brand.

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Looking at the peaks and troughs from the Topsy analytics however, we see a less balanced view and the Tesla Model S social media buzz is more lively than the Maserati, not just at the notable point on 04/13/14, when a cartoon on Tesla ownership was published.

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We do however have to take into account other differences:

– Aside from the obvious electric car aspect, the Tesla Model S has been around for a while to build a loyal following, but the Ghibli 2014 is the new kid on the block, with much lower brand recognition in the US.

– Elon Musk’s Klout score is 86. Anyone heard of Harald Wester or Peter Grady? Thought so.

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– Looking at the socialmention measures several times over the course of 24 hours, fluctuations in social media activity show regional differences: daytime in Europe tends to improve on the Maserati metrics, but US West Coast time zone sees a lot of Tesla chatter. The emphasis in target markets for both brands is just the opposite, as per above, so the marketing campaigns make sense: Super Bowl ad for Maserati and free performance configuration for the Autobahn for German Tesla customers. (Keeping in mind that Model S is closer to $100k in Europe.)

– Like with all social media presence, exact measurements for intent to buy and conversion are hard to establish, and it was long debated that luxury products don’t mesh well with the openness of social media, companies thinking that it would dilute the exclusivity of their product. That said, Maserati Ghibli had to create brand awareness very fast to compete with other vehicles in its category and to try punch above its weight. If we accept that the intent of their campaign is to send customers window-shopping and convert them in-store (like many other luxury retailers), then the response to the Super Bowl ad hints at success: new car searches on the Kelley Blue Book site for the Ghibli has increased by 4,250% after the ad aired. However, follow-up on social media channels was probably not as strong as it could have been.

By the way, the cartoon is pretty funny too: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla_model_s

And of course: #NoTESTAndy

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THE RETURN OF DEERE VS. CAT – THE DEATHMATCH

As this is one of the last assignments for the class, I reached back to the beginning to compare social mentions for John Deere and Caterpillar.

The first tool I went to was Social Mention – I picked Social Mention because it was free and it is something we had used during our Passion for American Rail Project. 

Overall I think the results are pretty interesting.  One of the things I keyed into on Social mention was “Sentiment” (Positive mentions to Negative mentions in Social Media), with John Deere scoring 27:1 vs. 6:1 for Caterpillar despite the 11% strength of the topic and the higher reach.

A funny note? Those negatives are not about farm equipment but actually hungry caterpillars.  J But it might be important in this case you have a company whose name is also a word, it must be more difficult for the Caterpillar company to pull it’s messaging out when it’s such a common name for an animal.

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Over out on Klout – John Deere has 84 Klout and Caterpillar Inc (notice the Inc) actually has an impressive 86.  As comparison, Microsoft is 99, Google is 98 and Apple is 87, so the numbers can swing wildly based on brand.  It’s however a good indicator that both are about as equally engaged in social media.

With a lack of reliable freeware tools to track 3rd party sites, I turned to Keyhole.  Again, Deere is interesting here, producing 250k reach with about 400 unique users (across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).  Caterpillar is again an interesting story… it’s tough to separate the company from the animal in this case.  I went with a search on “CaterpillarInc” as the “Caterpillar” search gave me 3M subscribers.  Still.  There was an IMPRESSIVE turn out for Caterpillar, at 1.3M Reaches with a less impressive 76 users.  But upon a deeper dive, the primary term associated with CaterpillarInc was a hashtag named #katherine that had to do with a shark tracking mechanism (I could find no other reference to this, except the one guy who was spamming it over and over).

Keyhole brings up an interesting problem.  Looking more through Cat’s (and Deere’s) hashtag mentions, and taking into account the info from Klout (where it shows that they are “essentially equal”) one can perhaps get a different view depending on what one wants to see and what one digs into.  It’d be easy here to go into the tools and pull out great stats for Caterpillar.  In the end, tracking this data ends up more art than science.

Oh and to close, #NoTestAndy

Please… think of the children!

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read all about why we should have #noTESTandy…

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Filed under 2014 Causes, Social Media Strategy for Companies