Subaru is one of the smaller manufacturers that doesn’t produce a full line of vehicles (cars, trucks and SUVs). Nevertheless, it is very popular in many regions. Nationally, Subaru makes up about 1.6 percent of the overall automotive market, but in some regions, the little carmaker comprises a much larger chunk of car sales than its small size might justify. In states like Vermont, for example, Subaru is over 11 percent of the state’s overall automotive sales. We set out to find out why it is that Subaru is so popular in some areas and not as much in others.
Subaru has a two-pronged marketing strategy and over the years, it’s paid off for them. The slogans and advertising spots might change, but the general strategies have not. First, Subaru tends to target and sell well in areas where the climate is truly “all weather.” One major selling point of Subaru vehicles (with the exception of the BRZ sports car) is their standard all-wheel drive (AWD) drivetrains. As you can see from our chart of the top 10 states for the brand, Subaru does well where the weather is not always delightful.
The top three states on our list are geographically close, with Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire all being Subaru strongholds for sales. In most of the top 10, varied topography is also the norm, as are the lifestyles that often accompany this type of terrain. Subaru’s marketing often targets outdoorsy types, and its general perception in public polls is that of a “green,” “environmentally friendly” lifestyle that involves a lot of outdoor recreation and activity. Anyone surveying the brand’s marketing in television and print has probably noted that this is often a theme in their advertising. Most of the states in our top 10 list have large subcultures of people who fit that general profile.
That brings us to the other thing Subaru has done well and the second prong to their marketing approach: niche marketing. Originally, Subaru targeted the green, physically active outdoors segments. Then the company began expanding to other niches, becoming one of the first automakers to specifically advertise in publications for and targeting the gay and lesbian community. It also targets specific niches of relatively affluent but active and traditionally frugal groups of buyers such as healthcare professionals, teachers and self-employed tradespeople. This has continued to pay off for the company and the average buyer metrics for Subaru vehicles has proven that: They are generally more affluent, more fiscally conservative and more likely to buy their vehicle without financing.
Another point not often connected in people’s minds with Subaru is its long history of high reliability and high resale values. Yet market data shows that Subaru enjoys a very good reputation for reliability and has recently been praised as one of the brands with the highest resell values in the country.
All of these factors explain not only why the 10 states on our Top 10 States for Subaru Sales are highest ranked, but also why the Subaru brand and its vehicles remain so popular in the United States despite having only a small portion of the market as a whole.
iSeeCars.com analyzed over 2.2 million used cars sold from October 2015 through September 2016. The number of Subaru sold in each state was expressed as a percentage of the total number of cars sold in the state, and this percentage share was used to rank all the states.