Location Data Shows The Challenge Tesla Faces In Broadening Its Appeal Beyond Luxury

As Tesla seeks to divert attention from the controversial tweets of founder Elon Musk, the electric car company is having difficulty reaching less affluent carbuyers, Factual geo-data indicates.

Even before Tesla founder Elon Musk’s latest social media eruption set Wall St. and the Twittersphere scrambling after musing about taking the electric car company private, the brand has been plagued by one major question: can it attract mainstream carbuyers?

Recent attempts to move beyond early-adopters and fans of Musk appear to still be struggling, according to geo-data from Factual that looked at the types of consumers walking into to Tesla showrooms.

Meanwhile, the Factual data shows how auto dealers across the spectrum are bringing in Tesla shoppers, suggesting greater skepticism among those fans.

Car industry observers have noted that the early excitement has ebbed since Musk promised to make the Tesla Model 3 more “affordable” with a list price of $35,000. The LA Times pointed out in May 2018 that the car’s lowest price is currently around $49,000.

“Our data shows that Tesla may still feel out of reach for many, as shoppers are more likely to be young, high earners,” Ocean Fine, VP, Agency & Strategic Accounts, Factual, tells GeoMarketing. “Our data on competitive dealership visits is telling, though, showing that shoppers of non-premium brands like Honda and Volkswagen are beginning to explore Tesla as well.”

The Tesla Model S

It appears that reaching more people through the Model 3 hasn’t yet taken hold. The data also includes the top 10 US cities seeing the most foot traffic.

Among Factual’s topline findings of its Tesla dealer study:

Competing Auto Dealerships

Tesla showroom visitors are also likely to visit these dealerships:

  1. Jaguar Dealer
  2. Land Rover Dealer
  3. MINI Dealer
  4. Volvo Dealer
  5. Audi Dealer
  6. Volkswagen Dealer
  7. Porsche Dealer
  8. BMW Dealer
  9. Lexus Dealer
  10. Honda Dealer

Most Frequented US Cities (based on footfall from March 2018 – May 2018)

The cities with the highest Tesla showroom footfall are:

  1. Houston, TX
  2. Seattle, WA
  3. Miami, FL
  4. Bellevue, WA
  5. San Diego, CA
  6. San Jose, CA
  7. Santa Monica, CA
  8. Indianapolis, IN
  9. Columbus, OH
  10. Austin, TX

In-Market Audience Personas: The Affluent Young Family

Behavioral Segments

  • 135% more likely to be a Disney Enthusiast
  • 70% more likely to be a New Home Owner
  • 54% more likely to be a Newlywed
  • 45% more likely to be an Expecting Parent

Age & Income

  • 40% more likely to be within the 35-44 age range
  • 85% more likely to have an annual income of $100-125k
  • 109% more likely to have an annual income of $150-175k

Frequently Visited Chains

  • 2x more likely to visit an Apple Store
  • 2x more likely to visit Nordstrom, 58% more likely to visit Bloomingdale’s
  • 9x more likely to visit Crate & Barrel, 1.5x more likely to visit West Elm, 1.2x more likely to visit The Container Store
  • 40% more likely to visit My Gym Children’s Fitness Center

Frequently Visited Categories of Locations

  • Hiking (269% more likely)
  • Arcades (176% more likely)
  • Cards and Stationery (156% more likely)
  • Toys (140% more likely)
  • Real Estate (98% more likely)
  • Tutoring and Educational Services (93% more likely)
Tesla Model 3

Prices Aside

Apart from lowering its prices, perhaps, what should Tesla — or a luxury, aspirational brand like Tesla do with its location-based ad campaigns to appeal to a wider audience?

“Location data increases campaign effectiveness for all brands, luxury or not,” Fine says. “Tapping into location to understand customers’ real world behavior and interests will allow Tesla and others to better reach and engage their audiences – both current and potential customers.”

For example, Factual’s location data revealed that Tesla shoppers are more likely than average to be newlyweds and expecting parents.

“Tesla could use this information to create relevant ad experiences that will resonate with an affluent young family. We also found that seven of the top ten cities with the highest footfall are coastal, which is valuable information that can impact targeting strategies,” Fine adds.

Tesla Rivals Take Note

Asked what should Tesla’s competitors consider when it comes to attempts to steal away foot traffic, Fine pointed to the location patterns those potential Tesla customers make as a way to reach them.

“The places people visit are one of the best indicators of how they spend their time, their interests, and what they intend to purchase,” Fine says. “It could be beneficial for all automakers to better understand both their customers and shoppers of competitive brands using location data to gather a holistic view of their interests and behaviors. These insights can be used to inform strategies beyond marketing campaigns for initiatives like store planning and design, competitive intelligence and logistics, or even informing product development and price points.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.