The muscle car segment may be in a bit of a funk right now. In terms of sales, the Chevrolet Camaro is definitely in a valley, while the Ford Mustang is propped up by an aging customer base. At the same time, there’s a correlation between the dip in this segment and the flourishing of the off-road truck and SUV markets – likely pulling in the same psychographic with similar income levels from muscle cars. Then there’s Dodge, which continues to see sales of its Charger and Challenger grow not just from 2020, but from 2019 as well. More impressively, these customers are on the younger side of 50, they’re fairly well off, and they appear to be the least homogeneous of any mainstream brand.
“We have the youngest demographic in the industry, over 60 percent Gen-X and Millennial, we have a fanbase that’s willing to adapt this new technology, and I see great things for the Dodge brand and the next generation of muscle cars,” explained Matt McAlear, head of Dodge customer sales operations.
Making Dodge Great Again
“If you go back to 2010, 11, 12… we were a lost brand a little bit. America’s value brand with the most models under $20,000. It was Journey it was Grand Caravan, it was Dart, balanced with a couple of cars on the performance side,” McAlear began to explain. “We spent the last 7 years honing it down to what it is. And this year we’ve distilled the brand down to three core models. All of them have the Hellcat engine, all of them have V6 and multiple V8 engines.”
The seeds of the Dodge muscle car revolution were planted closer to the beginning of last decade.
“We’ve been working and crafting this with a vision in mind in the last 7-8 years to be America’s performance brand. There are few other brands that can get away with the colors, the stripes, the audacity,” he said. “We don’t want to be everything for everybody… sales this year our out-pacing 2019. We look at 2019 as the benchmark vs last year with COVID. Sans the chip shortages we’re having terrific months.”
“This is the year for us… 7-8 years in the making.”
A Closer Look At The Dodge Customer
“Our strongest markets are the Southeast, Florida, Atlanta, the Carolinas, Texas and California,” said McAlear. “We do very well in the Northeast with all-wheel-drive. We’re definitely a “Smile State” brand where we resonate the most.
Of those locations is where you’ll find a diverse group of performance enthusiasts with money to spend.
“If you look at (Dodge Charger, Challenger, Durango) demographics, we’re the youngest in the industry,” said McAlear. “We have over $110k average household income, which is 105 percent of the mainstream brands… we’ve definitely moved away from America’s value brand.
The numbers surrounding the average Dodge customer are based on the 2020 Martitz United States New Customer Vehicle Study that took place between October 2019 and June 2020.
“We’re also a very diverse brand. No.2 among mainstream brands in diversity among Asian, Hispanic and African American,” added the Dodge sales head. “We do very well, we’re proud of that, and it’s going to be something we focus on in the messaging. We were the most loved auto brand in 2018. It’s little things like that.”
Bringing all of these Dodge customer groups together is a like-mindedness, or a psychographic.
The (Dodge Charger) has one psychographic, but multiple demographics,” said McAlear. “You’ve got a vehicle that does extremely well in the fleet and rental car business, it’s a police car, it’s an AWD V6… and where else are you gonna get an 800 horsepower sedan that can hold you and four of your friends? Not many other cars can transcend into that many segments.”
The Dodge Charger has uniquely overcome a massive sales retreat in full size sedan sales that other brands have dealt with, leaving other marques to abandon the space completely, such as Chevrolet. Customers have otherwise demonstrated a strong loyalty to the
FCA Stellantis family of brands.
“It’s amazing the number of repeat buyers we have out there that have multiple (Stellantis) vehicles. They have their Charger, they have their Challenger, now they want the Durango Hellcat. They have to one-up their neighbor, they have to keep going after it… they want the Jeep Wrangler 392, they want the Ram 1500 TRX.”
This is particularly true when it comes to Dodge customers and the Ram pickup truck.
“The Ram is actually the number one lead source between Dodge and Ram. You’ve got a Dodge muscle car in the driveway, you’ve got a Ram truck in the driveway. And now you’ve got the Ram TRX. They’re passionate, they’re loyal, they’re old Viper customers… now they’re coming back for Demons and Redeyes. These are performance junkies that continue to want the latest and greatest.”
“Excess Drives Success”
Selling Hellcat and Redeye Dodge Charger and Challenger muscle cars, as well as the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, is just as important as selling the image of them, according to McAlear.
“You won’t see us advertise a V6. Excess drives success, so we show Hellcats and burnouts and cars flying around corners, and Talladega Nights,” he noted. “At the same time over 50 percent of our sales are V6.”
It’s uncertain if sales will continue to climb for the rest of the year, due to the ongoing global microchip supply shortage that continues to weigh down the automotive industry.
“If we could produce every single Scat Pack we had an order for it would be incredible. There’s only so much the plants can push out these days.”