How Londoners view the automotive market


When it comes to transport, Londoners are not short of options. From an extensive tube network that stretches right out into the suburbs, National Rail trains, buses, taxis and even boats down the Thames, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there was no need for a London local to ever own a car. Add to this steep congestion charges, expensive permits, a shortage of parking and the high cost of living in the city, and it seems unlikely that any of the city’s inhabitants would be keen to own a private vehicle. Despite this, however, many Londoners still choose to do so, with over 54% of households in the city having at least one car.

So what’s motivating Londoners’ interest in the world of automotive? From a rise in electric cars to a love of Top Gear, we looked at our recent study – The Many Faces of Luxury – to find out…

Meet the mindset segments

Using a combination of transaction data, social intelligence and other third-party data sources, Starcount’s study reveals the passions, motivations and mindsets that lead to purchase, as well as the brands, influencers and media titles favoured by these different consumer mindsets. The study also showcases how consumers move between segments, bringing to life their changing lifestages and the ways in which these impact buying behavior.

The report uncovered that London’s active consumers are almost 65% female, and fall into five key mindset segments:

  1. Suburban Commuters
  2. Local Trendsetters
  3. Family Day Trippers
  4. Affluent Cosmopolitans
  5. Seasoned Spenders

Surburban Commuters tend to be professionals who travel into the city for both work and pleasure, while Family Day Trippers are professionals with young children who enjoy treating their families to trips to the theatre. Local Trendsetters flock to the latest neighbourhood hotspots while Seasoned Spenders fork out on stalls seats to the Royal Opera House and Affluent Cosmopolitans are happy to spend highly on designer clothing and accessories, and expensive nights out.

Which automotive brands are speaking best to Londoners?

Suburban Commuters

The top automotive brands for Suburban Commuters are manufacturers of family-friendly vehicles and suppliers, reflecting a practical need for a car to manage their lives outside of London, particularly during weekends. Key brands include Vauxhall, Hyundai, Continental Tyres, Volvo, Citroen, Alfa Romeo and Suzuki.

Local Trendsetters

Young, artistic and community-focused, Local Trendsetters are unlikely to own private vehicles. Top automotive brands for this group indicate a more aspirational interest in luxury cars, with Tesla, Infiniti, Bentley Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Maserati and Jaguar all rising to the fore. They also rely heavily on London’s public transport system and grab an Uber if they’re heading home after hours.

Family Day Trippers

Family Day Trippers combine a clear interest in high-end cars with a need for practicality. Top brands for this group include Vauxhall, Hyundai, Audi, Volkswagen, Aston Martin, Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz. They also regularly commute using National Rail and TFL services.

Seasoned Spenders

Seasoned Spenders have both the desire and the budget to own some of the world’s most glamorous vehicles, with their favourite brands including Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Rolls-Royce, Audi, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. They also use public transport, although they prefer more traditional black cabs to Uber.

Affluent Cosmopolitans

Affluent Cosmopolitans are keen users of London’s extensive public transport system, jumping on the tube, the Overground, buses and even river taxis to get where they need to go. When it comes to cars, they have broad taste, stretching from luxury brands like Aston Martin and Rolls-Royce, to the more mid-range manufacturers like Audi and Mercedes-Benz and mainstream brands like Hyundai and Vauxhall. 

A lifelong passion for motoring?

By tracking consumers’ changing passions over time, we can identify emerging communities and trends, and predict when and why their loyalties will shift. All five of our luxury segments have been passionate about Motoring over the past two years; however, their interest in the automotive space has been driven by a range of differing motivations. 

Suburban Commuters

Passion ranking: Since 2015, Motoring has fallen from 8th to 12th place for Suburban Commuters, replaced by an increased passion for Fashion and Books & Literature.

Key stars: Suburban Commuters’ interested in Motoring is more functional than emotional, powered by a range of services and media titles that help them in the process of choosing and maintaining a vehicle. These include The Sun’s Motors section, tyre fitters Blackcircles.com, car insurance company 1st Central and service station chain Moto Services.

Local Trendsetters

Passion ranking: Motoring has fallen from 10th to 14th place for Local Trendsetters since 2015, replaced by a vastly increased interest in Politics (driven by Brexit and the US Election) and Business, Finance & Law.

Key stars: The Local Trendsetters are one of the least likely segments to own their own car, relying instead on flexible, digital offerings such as Zipcar and Uber.  

Family Day Trippers

Passion ranking: Motoring has stayed as a relatively consistent passion for the Family Day Trippers. It has moved from 8th to 10th place over the last two years, overtaken by Fashion and Lifestyle.

Key stars: The top Motoring stars for Family Day Trippers are similar to those for Suburban Commuters, with both groups being more likely to need a car than other segments, due to their family-focused lifestyles. As with Suburban Commuters, the Sun’s Motors section and Blackcircles.com head up the list. They are also fans of Top Gear, while Hyundai and Audi are favourite brands.

Seasoned Spenders

Passion ranking: For Seasoned Spenders, Motoring has been replaced by a passion for Politics, Lifestyle and Books & Literature, dropping from 10th to 15th place.

Key stars: Seasoned Spenders’ engagement with Motoring is all about brands, particularly luxury manufacturers like Aston Martin, Bentley and Jaguar. They are also avid watchers of Top Gear.

Affluent Cosmopolitans

Passion ranking: Motoring is a key passion for Affluent Cosmopolitans, only moving one place since 2015; their passion for Shopping at large department stores (Hobbies) has shifted Motoring from 2nd to 3rd position.

Key stars: While this group are big car fans, they don’t necessarily need to own one; Affluent Cosmopolitans are frequent users of Uber and Zipcar, relying on these apps to get around London. They also have a more general interest in the automotive world, reading The Sun’s Motors pages and following updates from brands including Aston Martin and Hyundai.