By on December 5, 2008

Marketing Daily (but never on Sundays) reports on a new survey of car drivers’ feelings about their whips, vis a vis self-image. “In its online survey, Mintel asked consumers: ‘How do you feel when you are driving?’ and gave them 19 choices for a response. Three of the top four feelings chosen by respondents had to do with utility and security, per the firm, with 46% saying they felt ‘responsible’; 40% saying ‘safe’; and 37% saying they felt ‘practical….’ Mintel says that near the bottom of the list landed emotions like ‘powerful,’ ‘fast,’ and ‘sexy.’ The bottom of the list was ‘rich…’ Mintel found that 60% of survey respondents believe the main purpose of a vehicle is to get from point A to point B, and 55% say the true value of a car or truck is how long it lasts. Only 13% say they want their vehicle to catch other people’s attention.” Surprisingly, Marketing Daily sees this as a condemnation of car ads that use sex and speed to sell cars, ignoring aspiration. And the fact that no one in their right mind is going to say they bought a car to feel powerful or sexy– even if they did.

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16 Comments on “Shock! 60% of Drivers Use Vehicle to Get From point A to point B...”

  • avatar

    BALONEY! If this was true, they would sell lots of Corollas, Civics, Camrys and Accords, and we all know that that isn’t the case at all.

  • avatar

    I don’t buy it. Power and money and status is almost always in the mix of motivations even if people don’t realize it. The only people who aren’t motivated at least in part by those things are those rare birds who cycle through 500 dollar junkers, driving them until they die and selling them for scrap money to get the next junker. Everybody else is concerned with how they look, even if the pocket book ends up controlling their purchasing decision.

  • avatar

    I drive a Miata because it makes me feel like I’m not quite a grown-up. I hope I never lose that. Maturity is overrated.

  • avatar

    For an interesting profile in SUV buyer psychology see Ch6 “Reptile Dreams” of High and Mighty: SUVs – the Wrold’s most dangerous vehicles and how they got that way by Keith Bradsher

  • avatar

    toxicroach, the problem with your theory is that $500 junkers are usually a very bad way to get from Place A to Place B unless you can fix your own cars and didn’t really need to get to Place B today anyways.

  • avatar

    I saw that local new Lexus ad for the RX, which I knew would tank.
    A woman reminisces how getting a real pony was the best day of her life because it made her friends so jealous. Time changes back to present, and she now receives a lexus rx from her husband.
    Problem? Even though it’s completely the case, nobody wants to be reminded that they are so vain that the real reason why they bought that car is to make the neighbors jealous.

    It’s like a salesman saying: “you know what? You’re a real jerk, but that’s OK”. That guy would quickly be out of business.

  • avatar
    John R

    I think the methodology for developing this survey went something like this.

  • avatar

    I knew a guy who used to do that with junkers. Maybe he had two junkers for when one broke. Point being, if 60% of people were truly buying whichever car was the cheapest car to fit their needs with no concern about status, the automotive market would be a very very different place. Station wagons instead of SUVs, for one thing.

  • avatar


    $500 junker might be a stretch, but I find that if you keep up with the maintenance (as in, take it to a good mechanic for oil changes and fix important things he recommends fixing), a $1500 compact car from mid-90’s will get you there on time more often than most newer ones, will cost you less in gas, and will save you a ton of money on liability-only insurance. The reliability curve is parabolic – you want to get the car at the point where the curve is about to stop going down, and drive it until things start falling off. $1500 get you a not-so-hot looking Sentra or Corolla with 130K miles and a decent interior, and it’ll be good for another 100+ K miles before it starts doing bad things.

    Best of all, you can leave it in the worst places and not care. Nerve cells don’t regenerate!

  • avatar

    At the Carlisle Productions car shows, there are always a fair number of GM full-size cars from the late 1970s and early 1980s for sale. Most are in good condition, and can be had for well under $4,000.

    With the right engine – no diesels or Cadillac 4100 V-8s, please – and in the right condition, they can be a low-cost way to get around.

    They are reliable, inexpensive to repair, and parts are readily available.

  • avatar

    If this study were true, BMW would not be called “The Ultimate Leasing Machine”.

    -and you wouldn’t see tons of people pulling into the State School and Community College parking lots in cars that are glaringly above their station.

    If you can find a good + fairly priced mech & you own 2 crappy cars @ sub$5k/ea, it’s doable.

    +btw, Neurogenesis is possible.

  • avatar

    My father drove beaters most of his life. Once, when I was a student at Tufts, where he was chairman of the economics dept, I was driving along in his beater Falcon wagon on campus when I encountered a friend. “Is that the Dave Mobile,” he said, sounding impressed? No, I said, it’s my father’s. Suddenly his tone changed to incredulous as he said, “You mean the chairman of economics drives around in that thing???!” “thing” being equivalent to POS.

  • avatar

    I think this should come as quite a shock to many on this site and all other car sites. How many times do we have to read that a car clearly meant to be a commuter car (Prius) is crap because it does not excite car guys who think every car should be suitable for Walter Mitty types channeling Michael Schumacher?

    The nominations for the “ten worst” are proof positive that car guys fail to understand that for most of the population a car is a transportation tool.

  • avatar

    RF, you got it sooo right. What the respondents tell the surveyor, and how they really act can be two completely different things.

    I have likely mentioned it here, but I busted NPR years ago for doing a long story on a study that showed that college age males had many more sex partners on average than the girls did. Of course, the only difference would be due to either homosexuals (supposedly factored out) or to sleeping with much older women (not so much in style back then) or to lying (BINGO!).

    Well, lying may be a strong word, but I suspect that the men counted things as sex the women simply didn’t, or they kinda forgot.

    How the study got published, and then got journalistic coverage that rated at least 15 minutes on NPR should be the subject for a documentary. NPR later corrected the story.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    In ’96, I bought the most expensive car I have ever owned. An 88 BMW 528e. It was 8 yrs old and had 150k miles on it. I drove it for 11 1/2 yrs and put 200k on it. Never had a breakdown that required a tow. I serviced the car in my driveway. It is a hobby I guess. After 20 yrs of VW Bugs, I’ve gotten stuck on the 528e.Of the 5 528es I have had Ive gotten at least 5yrs and 120 k out them. I’m not into performance, I’m into maintenance. I keep the cars running with used parts as much as possible. I also rescue dump find lawn mowers and snow blowers. My BIL and I have been doing this for 30 yrs. Once I get a car sorted out, I can usually keep it going for less than 500$ parts a yr.

  • avatar

    In 5-10 years, or 100,000 miles the weak cars and lemons die off. When a car is >15 years old, has 150k, very little rust, and still runs like a top, you’ve found yourself a beast of good pedigree.

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