Is your car a reflection of who you are?
We’ve all heard the advice, “Judge not lest we be judged”, but it’s a hard habit to break, and the fact is, we do judge people by the cars they drive. Who hasn’t made a joke about a Volvo driver or thought people who drive beige cars were… well, old and boring?
“It’s all about first impressions,” says Automotive Marketing Australia Managing Director John Ruggiero. “It’s human instinct to decipher someone’s social positioning by the way they present themselves. Before you speak to them, you see the way they wear their hair, their clothes or you may have seen what they’ve rocked up in.”
And there’s the flipside. We’re making our own judgment on how we want the world to see us when we decide what car to buy. “The model of car and the style of car the buyer is looking to buy usually reflects where they want to be in life, how they want to be seen and how they want to position themselves to their friends, family and colleagues,” says Ruggerio.
We all have our opinions about certain brands, car types and even colours. And car companies like to push the barrow along by appointing ambassadors they think represent their values – Audi, for example, has fashion designer Collette Dinnigan, actor Asher Keddie and chefs Shannon Bennett, Matt Moran and Kylie Kwong on its books amongst others. Holden has actor Claudia Karvan and chef, Luke Nguyen. But do our preconceptions actually ring true?
British automotive services organisation RAC recently used the country’s YouGov database to take a look at what the most common driver-demographics were for some of the biggest car brands in the world.
It found BMW drivers were most typically male, aged between 40 and 54, and worked in business and finance. Audi drivers, contrastingly, tended to be 25-to-39-year-old males working in business and IT. Mini drivers, meanwhile, were most likely to be female, aged 25 to 39, and working in the legal community.
If those results confirm stereotypes to some extent, others are more surprising. Not least for what cars can say about the foods we eat and the films we watch.
Aston Martin and Honda drivers were more likely to enjoy sweeter foods, while spicy-food fans tended to own Mercedes-Benzes, Volkswagens and Lamborghinis. Drivers with more neutral taste buds were more likely to drive a Bentley, Mazda, Lotus or Alfa Romeo.
Honda, Toyota, Peugeot, Mercedes-Benz, Lamborghini, Jaguar and Hyundai drivers were found to be more likely to enjoy drama films, where their Volkswagen, Mazda, Kia and Audi counterparts tended to prefer crime films. Fans of comedies were most likely to be seen in a Lexus, while Ford and Mini owners tended to enjoy romances. Those who liked adventure-based films, meanwhile, were more likely to drive a BMW or Land Rover.
The US study What type of vehicle do people drive? The role of attitude and lifestyle in influencing vehicle type choice confirms many driving stereotypes. It found small-car drivers tended to have a stronger pro-environmental stance than the norm and luxury-car drivers were more likely to be status seekers. Sports-car drivers were more likely to be aggressive adventure seekers. SUV drivers were more likely to come from a larger household with children.
The hue of the car we drive can also reflect our personalities. UK fleet-management company Arval did a study that found that drivers of red cars tended to be more impulsive than the norm but – less expectedly – also more introverted.
Drivers of blue cars were more likely to remain married, green-car drivers were the most introverted and least materialistic of all the groups. Those who drove yellow cars were the least likely to be married but also the happiest of all groups. Silver-car drivers tended to be more organised and less impulsive than other drivers.
And don’t assume drivers of white or beige/brown cars are all old and boring. The former tended to be younger, more energetic and socially outgoing than the norm. The latter also tended to be younger than the average driver.
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Related article: How can novated leasing put you behind the wheel of a better car?