Tell me your make of car and I tell you who you are
Which brand is driven by the bourgeoisie, which one by daredevils? What do students go for, what do top earners prefer? Which brand attracts women and which one machos?
A representative study recently published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung with 1029 participants shows stereotypes of car drivers as they are seen by the German population. We want to introduce you to nine (confirmed) clichés.
The Audi driver – attractive and audacious
No doubt, Audi has made a steep ascent in recent years. It was a long way to go from the image of a boring, lame jalopy driven by seniors to a fancy sedan which is even driven by the German Chancellor.
The survey confirms the success: Audi is a car for climbers. The driver is more playful than Mercedes and BMW drivers - he is also seen less determined and less arrogant. By trend, he is younger and less wealthy but has more sex appeal than a Mercedes driver.
The BMW driver – wild and male
"Sheer Driving Pleasure": This slogan BMW customer heard for years but in times of melting polar caps car manufacturers have to be ecologically correct.
BMW takes this to heart and speaks of "efficient dynamics" and acts very ecologically. But this only appeals to people moderately. In their minds BMW drivers are potential speeders. Only the Porsche pilot goes wilder. The BMW driver is also considered similar athletic and arrogant but not yet as professionally successful as the Porsche driver.
The Fiat driver – slim and restrained
In the minds of Germans Fiat is definitely a women’s car. Therefore behind the steering wheel of a Fiat sit rather young women with a rather low salary, worker or simple employee with no university degree.
She is perceived as medium athletic, not at all arrogant, open to the world and rather shy.
The Ford driver – corpulent and shy
The Ford driver must endure a lot of malice: According to the survey, no driver is considered as more unathletic and ugly. The poor Ford customer is rather older and quite far away from the executive suit. Just his modesty is reputed to him.
Fortunately we can donate him consolation: Not who actually drives a car make provides the image but the one we picture in the car. And often there are worlds in between.
The Mercedes driver – serious and bourgeois
The Mercedes driver has three typical characteristics: he is much more serious than all the other drivers, older (over fifty), and has the reputation of a petty bourgeois. Therefore a Mercedes is driven by a settled self-employed, who is rather arrogant and conservative, unathletic and rather fat.
In contrast, Mercedes’ young secondary brand Smart produces highly appealing vehicles. The people surveyed visualize a sporty young woman in the ecologically correct runabout.
The Mini driver – young and sexy
The typical Mini driver is a female driver. No brand has more female followers than the little Briton. The Bavarian parent incidentally landed at the other end of the scale: no brand is more masculine than BMW - not even Porsche or Mercedes. If there is a typical women’s car then it is Mini.
The Mini driver is young (30 and younger), preferably a student with a presumed low income. This indicates that a sponsor – Mum, Dad, husband – has to help her financing the zippy car. Assumedly they like doing it because the Mini driver is the stereotype-based dream of a woman: pretty, cosmopolitan, cheerful, athletic and daredevil.
The Opel driver – honest and good-humoured
According to the survey Opel’s marketing strategists are only moderately successful with turning the image into young and sexy. The best feature of the Opel driver is his modesty. But then it's getting unpleasant: unattractive, unathletic and philistinism are the salient features of those who are moving about in an Astra or Corsa. At least the Opel driver has not lost its humour. He is regarded as significantly happier than a Mercedes customer.
The Peugeot driver – pretty and cosmopolitan
German car manufacturer find it difficult to imagine a women behind the wheel of a German car. She is either getting into a Mini or Smart if she claims to be fashionable, or into a model from some foreign manufacturer – Peugeot is the first in line.
In German people's mind the French brand stands for some kind of cosmopolitan understatement. The typical Peugeot driver is a female employee in the mid-30th, earning moderate money, being polite and modest, quite pretty, slim and good-humoured.
The Volkswagen driver – happy and modest
As VW sells a lot of cars to all kinds of people the image of the brand is quite diffuse: the VW driver embodies the middle class which is moderately educated, has average income, not quite young but also not old yet. He is neither classified as particularly sporty nor completely lazy. To a certain extend he is decent and cosmopolitan – shy and audacious.