Independent Vehicle Wrap Study

(Discover What Independent Research Has To Say About Vehicle Wraps)
An Objective Look at a Thriving New Segment of the Outdoor Advertising Market



The advertising landscape is constantly evolving. As new marketing technologies are introduced, businesses are swift to react, taking to the Internet and mobile platforms to market their brands across more channels. The outdoor advertising industry is also following suit. Vehicle wraps, a somewhat new entrant to the outdoor advertising realm, is one of the most dynamic and powerful advertising platforms today. It continues to grow in popularity, and seems to have found its place as a staple in small-business marketing all over the U.S. In this report we will take an objective view of the vehicle wraps market in an attempt to identify and measure its effectiveness as a marketing tool.

As with any other form of advertising, the marketer must first carefully analyze the value proposition offered by vehicle wraps. Research shows that audiences are more readily engaged by mobile media such as fleet graphics and vehicle wraps, compared to traditional outdoor advertising, such as static billboards.

But is it right for you?

Answering the following will help you determine whether you should invest in vehicle wraps:

  • What can mobile media offer your business?
  • How do you gauge the efficacy?
  • How does it compare with your other marketing efforts?
  • Does it suit your brand image?
  • How does it fit into your overall marketing plan?

Over the next few pages we will dissect the vehicle wrap industry to help determine whether it has potential to positively impact your business. Measurement of key metrics such as ROI will be discussed, to provide insights on reach and cost-effectiveness. Starting with a brief history, the paper will take the reader through the evolution of vehicle wraps, from its inception in the 1990s to its subsequent popularity as "mobile media assets."

To put the vehicle wrap trend in context, we will take a look at specific mechanics of the advertising industry, including the intricacies of buying and selling traditional advertising. We end with a discussion on potential positive impacts vehicle wraps have on a brand, along with an overview of industries that may benefit from this new marketing tool.


For years, billboards were the de facto standard in outdoor advertising. Large, flat panels, strategically located in high-traffic areas for maximum visibility, delivered brand messages to the masses. From the 1950s onward, billboards were no longer limited to urban centers, as the ever-expanding national highway system took motorists hundreds and thousands of miles out of city centers. And where the motorist went, the billboard followed. Today, billboards have become such a ubiquitous part of life that they hardly warrant a second glance.

Toward the beginning of the 1990s, the outdoor advertising world was reshaped by a revolutionary new product pioneered by SuperGraphics, an elite digital imaging company based in Silicon Valley. The company wrapped a full-size bus with an advanced vinyl adhesive product developed by 3M.

The wrapped bus, depicting the "Crystal Pepsi" brand soon became a part of marketing folklore. Never before had such a large vehicle been branded in such a sophisticated way. The quality of the material was evident in its distinct sheen and high-resolution printing. Those who saw it for the first time were simply awestruck. Motorists and pedestrians who up to now were only used to seeing bland city buses welcomed the vibrant new addition to their streets.

Since its innovation, vehicle wraps have steadily gained in popularity among advertisers all over the country. It effectively addressed one of the most pressing issues in outdoor advertising: lack of space. With vehicle graphics, marketers found they could transform a business's fleet into a valuable media asset, there by side stepping the issue of (1) unavailable media space, and (2) high rents for in-demand media spaces.

Driven by demand, the industry exploded. Tractor-trailer businesses began renting out their fleets as mobile billboards, advertising products and services for all kinds of businesses. Large vehicles fully-covered with color graphics and catchy tag lines were becoming more and more common. Today, vehicle wraps are among the most dynamic and cost-effective forms of outdoor advertising.

Industry Statistics

The marketing prowess of vehicle graphics is evident from a number of studies conducted by market researchers and industry analysts. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, vehicle graphics can reach an astounding 95 percent of Americans. This statistic clearly indicates the effectiveness of "moveable media." Compared to traditional advertising, such as television commercials, radio spots, print ads and billboards, vehicle graphics offer an unprecedented opportunity for businesses to take their messages to previously-inaccessible audiences.

Today, the average American travels over 300 miles each week. As more Americans spend longer hours on the road, mobile advertisers have access to a larger base of "captive" audiences. This means a single branded vehicle can generate between 30,000 and 70,000 impressions a day, depending on such factors as locality and mileage. This represents the lowest cost-per-impression, or CPI, in all of advertising. CPI is an important metric that marketers use to test the potency of an advertising medium. In essence, it is a measure of how much it costs a business to make one thousand impressions. Understandably, the lower the CPI, the higher the number of impressions that can be made, for a given marketing budget.

Vehicle graphics is just as much about the quality of the impression as quantity. According to a new study, brands that appear on vehicle graphics are 15 times likelier to be recalled by consumers, compared to those that rely solely on traditional outdoor advertising. In addition, an impressive 92 percent of respondents claim to actually read the copy on fleet graphics, and 30 percent make buying decisions based on mobile advertisements on vehicles.

The outdoor advertising industry continues to grow, owing in part to the massive popularity of transit advertising. From 1993 to 2003 alone, the size of the industry nearly doubled -- from $1.2 billion to $2.1 billion. Today, transit advertising is the second largest segment in outdoor advertising, and accounts for over 19 percent of industry revenues.

The numbers and statistics paint a very clear picture. As more and more businesses realize the marketing potential of vehicle wraps (and include fleet graphics in their marketing mix,) the demand is only going to grow.

Brand Development

As markets become more sophisticated, so too do consumers. Given the stiff competition that every modern business must contend with, it has become harder and harder to matter in the marketplace. Businesses must make concerted efforts to present their offers in the best possible light. And that means creating and nurturing a brand that the market can relate to.

It's no longer enough to simply have a great offer packed with features and benefits. Today, the most successful businesses are those that are able to craft a brand that speaks to consumers. The emphasis has shifted from "what can it do?" to "how does it make me feel?" When a business is able to transcend itself from just another company to a brand that occupies a position in the mind of the target, it successfully addresses the "feel" factor. Of course, concrete concepts such as price and benefits are still important, but modern consumers are increasingly driven by abstract concepts as well, such as affinity for a brand.

Vehicle graphics offer businesses a bold new dimension for their branding and marketing efforts. It takes the brand to uncharted territories and introduces it to new audiences. When vehicle graphics are executed correctly-that is, when the design and copy are perfectly aligned with the brand's established identity-it reinforces the brand image. For consumers who are in the buying mind set, it establishes your brand as a viable option. For consumers who are not yet ready to buy, it builds brand awareness.

According to a study undertaken by The American Trucking Association:

  • 98% of respondents believe fleet graphics create a positive brand image
  • 96% notice ads on vehicles
  • 96% believe vehicle wraps are more effective than billboards
  • 75% formed impressions about a company and its brand from fleet graphics

Is it Right for You?

Advertising is not a perfect science. It has to be adapted to the particular product, tweaked for the specific market. Businesses in some industries may see positive results from online marketing but not television commercials or radio spots, whereas for others, the reverse may be true. It is up to the custodians of the brand to determine whether a particular marketing effort will bear fruit.

In general, the success or failure of a similar-sized business in the same industry is a good barometer in estimating the potential of a marketing tool. For instance, if a competing carpet-cleaning company sees results from a particular type of advertising, it should do the same for your carpet-cleaning business.

For vehicle wraps, businesses that stand to benefit the most include companies in the service industry. These businesses typically operate a fleet ranging from two to 30 or more vehicles, each visiting new areas and locales every day. If branded, the fleet could be used to push a brand message continuously all over town.

Some service industries that are already making use of fleet graphics include:

  • Plumbing
  • Heating & Cooling
  • Construction
  • Roofing & Guttering
  • Laundering
  • Automotive
  • Auto Body
  • Hail Repair
  • Cleaning
  • Landscaping
  • Delivery
  • Computer & Equipment Repair
  • Pool Cleaning


Vehicle wraps are so effective because consumers are not subconsciously "trained" to ignore them, as is the case with billboards, newspaper ads, web page banners and the like. Vehicle wraps are still somewhat of a novelty, and provide a welcome respite from the mundaneness of typical city sights. City dwellers know exactly where each billboard is located-there's no element of surprise. Not so with vehicle wraps. It catches the prospect by surprise, and demands attention.

Fleet graphics can be a smart, cost-effective addition to a business's marketing plans. It combines the engagement of a high-visibility medium with the cost-effectiveness of a low-CPI marketing tool.


Measuring the Value of Vehicle Wraps

3m Vehicle Impressions Guide

image Free Download: Discover What You Must Know Before Buying a Vehicle Wrap.