How can a test drive drive an electric vehicle purchase? – ScienceDaily

Test-driving an electric vehicle strengthens the personal identity of some potential buyers as early adopters of the latest technology, according to a new study.

According to the study, a stronger sense of being a timely user of new devices was linked to an increased likelihood that the test driver would be interested in purchasing the car.

Although the test drive raised the impression that an electric vehicle could serve as a status symbol, this expectation did not translate into an interest in making a purchase.

Senior author Nicole Sintov, associate professor of behavior, decision-making and sustainability at Ohio State University, said the findings help increase understanding of what drives consumer behavior behind sustainability-related purchases and offer insights that can guide electric vehicle (EV) marketing efforts.

“An electric vehicle can symbolize different things for different people – it won’t be the same overall. It’s therefore important to consider the variety of different qualities an EV can reflect,” he said. “We found that EV test drives have a lot of potential to change how people think about themselves, and this was linked to increased purchase intent.”

Sintov completed the work with first author Atar Herziger, a former postdoctoral fellow at Ohio State and currently on the Technion faculty of the Israel Institute of Technology.

The research was published recently. Journal of Environmental Psychology.

Sintov and Herziger set out to determine whether and how a test drive of an electric vehicle affects two types of symbolic meaning: the private meaning that supports an individual’s self-perception, or the public meaning that influences how others see the EV owner. And if these meanings change, will this affect the prospective buyer’s purchasing plan?

Two studies were conducted, one as a random experiment using a virtual test drive, and the other as a partnership with Smart Columbus to survey people who chose to participate in the EV test drive experience.

A total of 729 participants in the two studies were asked to rate how owning an EV would affect their perceptions before and after the test drive, and how owning a car would affect how others view them. After the test drive, they were asked how likely they were to buy, rent, or recommend the car to a friend.

The research focused on three types of specific symbolic meanings associated with owning an electric car: being pro-environmental, an early adopter of new technologies, or a car authority. To gauge public significance, the survey asked respondents to report the extent to which they perceived using EVs to say something about what kind of person they are.

In the case of the virtual test drive, the researchers used the same video of an EV model not yet available in the United States – removing all visible branding and noise. The virtual test drive included examples of how interior features work and took participants on a short journey from the driver’s perspective – the only difference being that some were told the car was a conventional gas powered vehicle and others were told so. a house.

Statistical analysis showed that from the pretest to the posttest drive, the virtual experience in EV strengthened the participants’ perception of the EV as an expressive object and enhanced their self-identity as early adopters of the technology.

“We didn’t see that when they were told they were test driving a conventional vehicle,” said Sintov, a faculty member at the Ohio State School of Environment and Natural Resources. “They had the same stimuli, but telling them it was this or that clearly changed their perception, not just of the vehicle, but of themselves.”

But only reinforced personal identity – special symbolic meaning – was associated with purchase intention.

Real-life test drive results had similar effects in reinforcing an EV’s public and private symbolic meanings, this time boosting both early tech adopter and auto authority identities — and again, only reinforced personal identities led to stronger intentions. rent or buy the car.

Sintov said that, from a theoretical and practical point of view, the distinctions between public and private meanings and their impact on purchase intentions are important. And given the impact the test drive has on these meanings, it also takes into account the fact that a lot of thought is often put into buying a car—it’s not a one-time decision, he said.

“We wanted to decouple these more concretely from previous work on EV symbolic meanings – all in the context of whether a test drive moved things,” he said.

Marketing around such experiences can be particularly important, as the results show that test drives can drive consumers to buy.

“If EV marketing efforts focus on saying, ‘Look at yourself – you have cool person status,’ that’s not the path we’ve set,” Sintov said. Said. “‘How do I think about myself differently after this test drive and how do I see myself differently, especially among early adopters of technology?’ That’s what makes people want to buy the car.”

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