How are you really going to use your new car?
Last week, we talked about setting aside preconceptions when shopping for a car and being open to a range of possibilities. Today, we’re going to start narrowing down those possibilities to find the ride that’s truly best for you.
Start by answering this question: how are you going to use your new car?
That should be an easy one, right? Unfortunately, it’s been made much more complicated by today’s marketing professionals.
Marketing ruins everything
Many people think that marketing is about laying out the case for a particular product. If a company makes a strong argument for a new watch or a phone or a videogame, you’re going to buy it, right?
Wrong. Marketing doesn’t sell products. Marketing sells promises–often, promises it can’t keep.
Think about the soap aisle at your local drug store or supermarket. There are dozens of brands of soap on those shelves, each offering a different experience. One promises to make you smell good, another promises to get rid of dirt, yet another promises to kill germs, and at least one promises to make your skin look younger and softer.
But throw away all that packaging, get rid of the dyes, and underneath, they’re all just freakin’ soap. Read the labels and you’ll see that the differences between them are often minimal.
In other words, when you buy soap, you’re not buying a hard, waxy bar that’s going to sit on the edge of your bathtub. You’re not really buying anything physical. You’re buying a promise–the promise of a particular experience.
Need another example? Think of movies. How many times have you gone to see a film that promised thrills and excitement and discovered that the only bits worth watching were the ones in the trailer? (Remember Prometheus?) You paid for an experience–one that was promised to you in advertisements. Unfortunately, the experience you bought and the one you had were very, very different things.
Nobody understands this quite as well as the marketers selling today’s cars, trucks, and SUVs. Some commercials promise to make us badass offroad warriors. Others insist that behind the wheel, we’ll become tech-savvy urbanites. Others vow to keep us safe, to transform us into great parents, or to make sexy supermodels fall in love with us.
Block the ads
Ignore all those promises. Don’t look to commercials for advice; look in a mirror and assess your life honestly and accurately:
- Do you need a vehicle for work, for your family, or for yourself?
- Do you have kids?
- How far do you commute for work?
- What do you typically do on the weekends?
- Where do you park at night?
- Are charging stations for electric cars and plug-in hybrids readily available where you live?
The answers to those questions may paint a different portrait of your life than the one you think you live. So, as much as you may want a vehicle that’s capable of bounding up mountain trails, if you haven’t left a city street for the past five years, that four-wheel-drive SUV may not be the right option for you.
On the other hand, maybe you want a compact car for quick weekend getaways. But if you have a husband, two kids, and a dog, is that a truly practical choice?
Bottom line: when planning for your next car, be honest about who you are today, not who you want to be. That’s not to say that aspirations aren’t important, but they’re better suited to your resume than your driveway.