Technology

Earnings Call: Tesla’s Success May Be Tied To Elon Musk’s Public Image

Image Credit: Wired

It might be hard to believe that someone born in the year Tesla was founded — 2003, in case you’re curious — could now be old enough to drive one of the company’s electric cars. 

During a conference call on Wednesday, investors doubtlessly hope to hear that the company has returned to profitability in Q2 2019. Tesla posted back-to-back profitable quarters for the first time ever in the latter half of 2018 before posting a loss in the first quarter of this year.

CivicScience has been tracking consumers’ attitudes toward Tesla since 2015, and the numbers from the past year represent something of a resurgence for the brand. 

After hitting a low point of 24% favorability vs. 23% unfavorability in the first months of 2018, Tesla has steadily been marching upward in the minds of American consumers. Over the past three months, the picture has been fairly rosy.

CivicScience looked through its data to find some insights about the typical Tesla enthusiast.

The Elon Factor

The correlation between liking CEO Elon Musk and liking Tesla’s cars is extremely strong. Unfortunately for Tesla, the opposite also holds true. 

Over the last three months, 54% of Tesla fans ranked Musk’s business skill as “high,” and about a third of them rated his personal likability as “high.” Only a quarter of this group said he’s unlikable, and a mere 10% of them say he’s a poor businessman.

In other words, Tesla enthusiasts are 35% more likely than the population at large to say Musk is a highly-skilled businessman, and a full 70% more likely than the general population to say Musk is likable. Meanwhile, only one of every 20 people who don’t like Teslas said they think Musk is highly likable, and four of five said his likability is “low.”

Beyond the Elon Factor

Of course, Elon Musk isn’t the only topic on a person’s mind when they order a Tesla. As one might’ve guessed, concern over environmental issues represents a major correlation.

And given that Tesla has offered semi-autonomous driving features since 2014, it’s a matter of course that one’s comfort level with self-driving cars also correlates to Tesla favorability. 

Demographics

Tesla fans are more likely to be male (58% are men) and more likely to be childless than those who are neutral or unfavorable toward the brand — though this latter correlation might have something to do with the age factor.

The younger you are, the more likely you are to like Tesla cars. A majority of adults under age 25 are favorable to the brand. If Tesla can hang on to that favorability (and remain viable) as those people get older and accrue the wealth needed to afford a Tesla (which go for $35,400 at minimum, roughly the price of a BMW X1), the company could have a bright future ahead of it. 

One interesting point to note in the chart above: While favorability increases as age decreases, Tesla unfavorability is spread relatively evenly across the age spectrum. That suggests the automaker will continue to have its share of detractors as the decades pass. 

Given the “Elon factor” noted above, it might be prudent for Tesla to keep an eye on Musk’s favorability among Generation Z. It’s pretty solid right now, but far from ideal. 

Other Insights

Tesla fans were 57% more likely than Tesla critics to say they would (or do) smoke cannabis at least monthly. They’re also substantially more likely to be interested in cannabidiol (CBD) products.

Tesla enthusiasts were more likely to be into the Netflix show Stranger Things, too. Fifty-eight percent of Tesla favorables said they were “somewhat” or “very” likely to watch the latest season of the 80s-themed sci-fi series. That’s 93% higher than the rate of unfavorables. 

While Tesla does seem to have a bumper crop of customers in the making as concerns Gen Z, it must also be wary that the public’s perception of the electric automaker appears to be inextricably entangled with that of its oft-controversial CEO. 

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