Car Profiles

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When we take a deep look at car profiles in general men and women look for totally different criteria.

Ask for a feminine view on cars and in general the answer will be something along the lines of: "It's a method of getting from A to B without relying on public transport." Now let us bring the Mars and Venus thing into action for a male view and you'll probably get something along one or more of the things listed below:

- My car is an extension of myself and has to fit my personality.


- My car is what separates me from the rest of the pack.

- My car provides the means to be first away from a set of traffic lights. (Authors note: "So that I can wait for everybody to catch up at the next set of lights.")

I have dozens more but I think you get the general idea of where this article is heading.

At a seminar some years ago we were discussing exactly what makes people buy a certain brand of car above another. There were three people at that meeting who were senior executives with major automotive makers and each of them went to great lengths to stress the importance of price and the need to keep manufacturing costs to a minimum. Obviously thrift must have been the industry catchphrase of the day so as dutiful executives they stressed the importance of this line of thinking.


Now go back and read the three points above regarding a male view of the purpose of a motor vehicle and ask the simple question: "Do any of these comments indicate that cost is a factor?" Also when it comes to the purchase of a car women rarely bother too much because it is accepted as male domain stuff.

Sitting quietly in the back row of this seminar was a marketing man who listened to all of the points made by the automotive professionals and waited patiently until question time arose. He proved to take a different view to car profiles and what people wanted to the auto executives.

"How many people here drive a Mercedes?" He asked of the gathering.

Six hands were half raised as though they felt guilty about owning a Mercedes.
He then asked the cost of each car and the prices ranged from $55,000 to around $200,000. He then asked each Mercedes owner why they decided to buy Mercedes rather than a cheaper car.

After a little thought the first man replied sheepishly: "Well a Mercedes is safe and reliable." The remaining five answers tended to be copies of the first one.


The marketing man then asked the group: "If your reason for choosing to buy a Mercedes is that it is safe and reliable are you suggesting that a Toyota is not safe and reliable?"

There was silence in the room and at least six faces were turning red. "Exactly." The marketing man said. "You all bought a Mercedes so that you could say ‘Up Yours' as you sit beside me at traffic lights. My Toyota is equally as safe and reliable as your Mercedes but it costs less than half the price of the cheapest Mercedes equivalent."

He then apologised to the six Mercedes owners for using them to paint the verbal picture he was putting across and concluded by suggesting to the three automotive professionals that when it comes to buying a car people want to know How much down and how much per month. When they know that they will then buy the most expensive model they can afford for the same reason that the six people in the room had chosen to buy a Mercedes.

That day I learned one of the most profound lessons why people buy cars in particular and marketing in general. Very few companies have taken the trouble to define their own market and exactly what they are seeking. This is often down to such things as internal politics among senior management or just the fact that many companies have become just too darn big to function properly. I leave you to determine whether this is the case or not?

The truth of the matter is that when we buy a car, be it new or second hand we are buying a status symbol that we (as men) hope will tell the rest of the world that we're really cool. When women look at car profiles with a view to buying they like to kid you that they're thinking about practical things like getting the older kids to school or having enough space to change the younger kids. If they were honest and discovered that a Ford and Mercedes both met the criteria they were seeking they will prefer the Mercedes for the self same reason as men prefer the Mercedes; they'll just find a more practical excuse to buy it.

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