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The San Francisco Chevy Volt Focus Group


One comment I hear far too often is that Volt followers think General Motors is asleep at the marketing wheel and not really hitting their target demographic for the Chevy Volt.  Generally I’ve withheld comment with regards to rebutting those statements – but this event being far enough in the past I feel comfortable writing about it now without stepping on anyone’s sensibilities or good faith.

Back in November of 2009, I was invited to participate in a Chevy Volt focus group held in San Francisco, CA.  My name made it to the General Motors marketing list because I had registered to receive emails from the Chevy Volt Official Site, and had answered a survey concerning prospective Chevy Volt Ownership.  Apparently I hit their target demographic.  For those who are curious (to the best of my knowledge, here were the most important demographic questions that put me on the radar).  Keep in mind that I am simplyfing a much more detailed survey so these were not the questions actually asked.

1.)  Household Income Level ($100,000 ~$150,000)

2.)  Age 22-30

3.) Interest Level in Technology:  Very High

4.) Interest Level in Green Living:  Moderate

5.) Interest Level in Oil Independance:  Low

6.) Driving Patterns (Often Less then 40 miles per day)

So for those of you that think GM is not doing their homework on this, I’d beg to differ.  What’s more interesting is the contrast that the background of the rest of the focus group members.  They varied from having very little knowledge of the volt, to people who have converted their own electric cars.  From people who thought that energy independance was a key motivating factor, to a true West Coast Organic Green Citizen. 

While the focus group was over two hours long – and many of the discussions very detailed about people’s perspectives, here were some very interesting tidbits that the research session touched on.

1.)  Purchasing Experience

The Question being explored was how open were people to alternative purchasing methods compared to walking into a dealership?  Many options were discussed including people’s feelings toward an online purchase vs a dealer purchase.

2.)  Ownership Experience

One initiative they were looking to develop was a very personal ownership experience for the Volt.  Questions centered around how best to communicate to a community of Volt owners and to make their experience unique.  Would community Volt events be of interest?  How about an online Web Portal?  Or a call to your home periodically for the latest Volt News?

3.)  Feelings Toward Pricing

They came out setting the expecation that we’ve often heard.  $32,500-$37,500 after federal rebates.  People’s opinion of the price point varied greatly depending on their reasons for owning.  In general people who wanted the Volt for technology were more open to a higher price whereas other motivating factors like Greenness and Energy Efficiency thought the price point to be expensive.  I am certainly generalizing here and am not a focus group expert so perhaps my read on what was said is different than fact, but that is what I noticed.

It is worth noting that I was subsequently asked to follow up for an in home interview.  A topic for which I hope to save a post for in the near future!

I hope this article was insightful to you about the thought being put into the positioning and marketing of the Volt.  Leave your comments if you think this helped or it’s a big load of crock!

2 Responses to “The San Francisco Chevy Volt Focus Group”

  1. mbepic says:

    It is interesting how ‘target marketing’ does not always hit the target;

    I fall into the category using questions 3-6 but for questions 1 & 2, I’m not even close……….income and age are far off the mark BUT I am or will be a very potent candidate for the Chevy Volt when they are introduced in Canada. OOOPS, maybe that is the reason, I am Canadian!

  2. PatrickZWang says:

    Hey there! Thanks for posting a response as I’ve just started the blog and getting it off the ground.

    You’ll be interested to know though that in the focus group i was the only person fitting that category. There were certainly a much larger variety of people from I’m sure a much different demographic. (I was the youngest in the study) So don’t lose hope!

    If you like what you see here, let others know of the site / help build up the awareness with by linking to it. Thanks!


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