Out Of Home Brand Strategy Cannes-Do

Where there’s a will, there’s a Waze: how to make your ads travel further


By Jenni Baker, Senior Editor

July 6, 2022 | 6 min read

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Reaching and influencing potential customers already on their way to make a purchase is a sweet spot for advertisers. The challenge is understanding their on-the-move behaviors to capture them at the right moment. Thanks to a new report from Waze, we explore the latest mobility trends in motion to see how brands and retailers can use these insights to make their ads travel further.

Advertising decisions can no longer rely on old assumptions about drivers

Advertising decisions can no longer rely on old assumptions about drivers

Did you know that a quarter of UK drivers would change their choice of retailer while on the road if they saw or heard an advert from another retailer that interested them? Or that 68% still prefer to drive to the shops for groceries rather than purchase online and have them delivered to their door?

The last two years have upturned UK mobility habits, but drivers have returned to the roads in a more significant and less predictable way than ever. That’s according to a new report, ‘Waze knows: the drivers of today and what’s fueling their purchasing decisions’, which gives fresh insight into the behaviors, motivations and engagement opportunities for UK drivers at a moment in time.

Advertising decisions can no longer rely on old assumptions about drivers; consumers’ relationship with their car is changing and it has big implications for how advertisers engage drivers on-the-go.

“Global crises have caused surges in costs of energy and fuel this year, but we continue to see car journeys increase across the country,” explains Ruairidh Roberts, country manager, Waze UK. “Navigations are trending upwards across all commercial categories and driven kilometers are far exceeding pre-Covid levels (by 61%). What comes with this is an opportunity for Waze to keep cars moving freely, and for brands to reach drivers at exactly the right part of their day.”

The mindset of today’s drivers

The report found that almost a fifth (18%) of drivers are using their cars more often than they did before the pandemic, with 41% using them just as much as before. Twenty-eight percent use their cars daily and 74% at least 3-4 days a week and for nine in 10 (88%) of drivers, being able to drive is just as – if not more – important now than it was before.

There are demographic factors at play too, with the research indicating that younger people (particularly under 35s), those who are working, and those with children in the household are driving more often and taking longer journeys.

“Our research has unearthed new insights about driver purchasing decisions,” explains Roberts. “We now know that drivers are willing to make longer journeys for better promotional deals with more spontaneous decisions enroute. Advertisers can use these insights to improve their understanding of drivers’ motivations and capture spending potential at its most optimum.”

An essential purchase enabler

The UK might have the highest percentage of e-commerce buyers in Western Europe, but drivers still prefer to drive to buy their goods rather than purchase them online and have them delivered, finds the report. With the exception of white goods, this is true across almost all categories – but especially groceries (68% versus 17%). Toiletries and healthcare, clothes, furniture, home accessories and fast food saw a greater propensity for buying in-person versus home deliveries.

And despite the pandemic sparking a growing trend for shopping locally, many drivers still choose where to go to make a purchase based on cost and value – even if that means driving further. For example, 76% would drive past a petrol station to buy fuel if they knew they could get it cheaper a little further away. Similarly, 48% agree that they would drive to a discount store to buy a product, even if there were stores selling similar products closer to their homes. And 59% agree they would be more likely to drive to a retailer if they knew it had a sale on and there was a bargain to be had.

So, what does all of this mean for brands and retailers?

Drivers make decisions on-the-go and they are open to suggestions on the move. The Waze research shows that a quarter (25%) of drivers would change their choice of retailer while driving if they saw or heard an ad for another retailer that interested them. And one in seven (14%) have actually stopped and bought something while driving because of an ad they heard or saw while in the car.

The most spontaneous buys for UK drivers include clothes (20%) and fast food (19%) with the stats even higher among Waze users (both 28%). When broken down by driving persona, the ‘staycationers’ (46%), ‘sightseers’ (41%) and ‘commuters’ (29%) were more likely to make spontaneous purchases while on the move.

65% of drivers are using navigation apps like Waze to plan ahead for routes to purchases and shopping destinations as well as searching out businesses, retailers or services in a specific area. And users of the Waze app are more susceptible to advertising – 31% are more likely to choose to drive to a retailer if they had recently seen or heard them being advertised versus 25% of all UK drivers.

Katy Allison, media strategy manager, Marks & Spencer – Food, says a huge priority for the media strategy at M&S is driving footfall into stores – so reaching people on the go is an “extremely effective” tool to achieve this. She adds: “Platforms such as Waze offers us a unique navigation inventory and valuable intent signals about where consumers are going. These signals, coupled with the time of day, type of trip and even weather conditions, enables us to better understand consumers’ mindsets and serve real-time contextual messages during their journeys.”

For more insights on the behaviors of drivers of today – including the different types of driving personas – and what’s fueling their purchase decisions, download the full report here.

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