On the Road Cover Story
cars.com On the Road Weekly Publication
3:42 PM EDT, October 12, 2011
Cars get us from point A to point b In between, they communicate a little something about who we are
By Deb Acord
Walk through a dealership lot and what do you see reflected in the maze of gleaming paint, chrome and glass? A new identity? A change in lifestyle?
That's what Jody DeVere sees. She says the purchase of a new car is more than choosing a make, model or even price. "Buying a new car for many people is a reflection of their lifestyle, status and passions," says DeVere, the CEO of AskPatty.com, Inc., a Thousand Oaks, Calif. company that provides automotive information geared to women and trains and certifies automotive retailers on how to attract, sell and build loyalty among female customers.
"Our cars say something about who we are, how we live, and what is important to us," DeVere says. "From luxury lifestyles, to the family minivan, muscle cars and eco-conscious green car lovers, there are so many choices for car buyers today. And whatever you are driving tells a story about you even if you are not driving your dream car."
DeVere often asks people to describe their dream car. "One woman said to me recently, I cannot wait for my kids to grow up so I can stop being a mini-van Mom and drive a sports car again! Stage of life drives car-buying decisions as well as economic forces.
A new car is one of the most expensive purchases a consumer will make, second only to buying a home. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the average price of a new car sold in the United States is $29,900.
Consumers are often cautious because of this hefty financial responsibility. But that doesn't mean their car buying experience can't be fun. Dealers position their most exciting new models at the front of their lots and in the center of their showrooms. Consumers prowl lots when the offices are closed or plan leisurely drives through areas where car lots are clustered together, stopping to peruse dealer stickers and peer into windows.
Many states don't allow Sunday car sales, so that's a popular day to dream about the perfect car.
"Shopping for a car on Sunday, without the pressure of a car salesman at our heels, can be as fun for some as window shopping at the mall," DeVere says. "Cars represent freedom, fond memories of road trips and life experiences. When you see a car you love, it can create desire and fantasies of what you could do, be, or see yourself as when driving it."
According to Bundle, a money management and research business, Americans spend 290 hours - more than 12 days - each year in cars. And car manufacturers spend millions of dollars on advertising and marketing to remind consumers that all that driving can be fun in the right car.
One car dealer feels so strongly about adding in the fun factor to car buying that it even uses the word in its marketing plan.
Gorges Motor Company, a dealer that’s been in Wichita, Kansas since 1953, even put fun in its web address: www.carbuyingfun.com.
"We chose that address about six years ago, when we really started focusing on taking the stress out of car buying," says Cliff Scholl, general manager.
"We realized that when someone buys their first car it's fun and exciting, but by the time you're on your fourth or fifth car, you might have become jaded," he says.
So what does your car say about you? Here are some interesting car connotations, courtesy of Forbes.com.
Chevy Corvette- General Motors says the car’s drivers are “aggressive,” and “in control,” in addition to “seeking adventure.”
Chevy Monte Carlo Coupe- You like to show off and stand out from the crowd. You are image-conscious and looking to rebel.
Dodge Viper two-door- You are a man’s man. 96 percent of Viper owners are men. Driving is one of your favorite things to do, and you want to stand out in a crowd. You want your car to be able to outperform most others on the road.
Honda Civic coupe and sedan- Your biggest hobbies are watching TV, going to the movies, reading, domestic travel and conversations with friends. Your biggest emotional desires are feeling secure, feeling in control of your life, having fun, having your needs met and having a sense of freedom.