The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

It’s Important to Keep a Proper Perspective!

October 2002, by Ed Bobit - Also by this author

Though pride in not a virtue, it is the parent of many virtues. -M.C. Collins


No one in the world except a mortified saint is actually displeased at the fact of becoming rather important. -R.H Benson


Pride, envy, avarice - these are the sparks Have set on fire the hearts of all men. -Dante Alighieri


There is a paradox in pride: it makes some men ridiculous, but prevents others from becoming so.-Charles Caleb Colton


The headline really grabbed me. It simply read, "Five Million Tires" in big, bold typeface. For just a moment, I thought it might have referred to some fleet magazine as I'm ever-alert and a trained editor.

But no, it was Motor Trend's editor-in-chief, Kevin Smith, shouting about some new subscriber research. Now MT is my favorite among all the so-called "enthusiasts" magazines and I've been on any number of press previews with Kevin so I respect his talents. He's been with a number of 'buff" books and has maintained a notable following.

But he obviously doesn't know about the fleet market. (Well, you can't be expected to be an expert on everything.) "Fleet" is where the domestic manufacturers register about 20 percent of all their new registrations each year.

Kevin was full of pride reporting on the profile of MT readers (1.1 million) and some of their demographics (having 3.19 million vehicles and buying five million tires in the last year).

He went on to reveal how powerful his audience was, being 96 percent male and buying 11 million spark plugs, an average of seven oil filters each year and 34 million quarts of oil.

Those are very marketable figures for their ad salespeople to bandy about and it has manifested itself into a huge advertising portfolio in every issue. And it's a similar success story with the three other buff books out there.

Now hear this! A brief lesson in "Fleet 101" for those either narrow-minded or not informed.

Automotive Fleet has 18,000 fleet manager-type primary readers. Right now they (and nearly half are female professionals) control, manage, buy, remarket and are otherwise responsible for four million cars and another four million trucks. That's a total of eight million vehicles vs MT's 3.2 million.

AF's reader-buyers have as strong an affinity for "their magazine" as do the buff books. They need, rather than enjoy, automotive information on which to base their rational (rather than emotional) decisions.

Five million replacement tires for MTs readers; a mere pittance. You see fleet cars travel, on average twice the mileage each year as do retail as do retail customer's cars. So, whether it's tires, motor oil or whatever, fleet cars are grinding it out twice as fast. Hell, fleet managers have purchased and replaced more than five million tires before the spring thaw.

Another thing we should be clear on. Fleet buyers know what depreciation means; they know life-cycle costing and how to negotiate directly with the factories. They may not know the 0-60 quotient for a Rolls Royce.

So, while MT may crowd their pages with test drives of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches, all three makes sold less than 25,000 in the U.S. last year; the top two commercial fleets bought more new vehicles than last year. Now that's perspective.

Now let me see if I still have this straight. A four-color full-page ad in AF runs around $8,500 to influence the significantly larger buying group. I just called MT's ad sales department and was told that their similar page rate goes for about $42,000

How about that perspective?


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