The Power Of Marketing

If, 10 years ago, you had asked the typical American auto shopper if they would be interested in a daily use vehicle that would weigh 5000-8000 pounds, be almost 20 feet long, and get 8-12 miles per gallon, the answer would have been a resounding “no”. The relatively few people driving Chevy Suburbans had good reason for driving those trucks, and were quite happy to exchange them for a smaller, more driveable car when the working day was done. But over the past decade, marketers have convinced us that not only are these trucks acceptable, they’re desirable to the point that we have to have them. And so we’re greeted each day by hundreds of these hulking behemoths, being ponderously navigated around grocery store parking lots and city streets by a lone occupant, often a woman, sucking gasoline at obscene rates. And just as often, we’re regaled by the drivers of these things complaining about how expensive it is to fill the tanks. And the worst part is that the biggest of these monstrosities are driven by welfare recipients – they would certainly claim otherwise, but the fact is that they were given a government handout, far greater than that given those “other” welfare recipients. So when you’re sitting in traffic trying vainly to see around the enormous hunk of metal next to you at the intersection, or waiting while the driver tries to maneuver it into a parking spot meant for a normal vehicle, comfort yourself with the thought that your income taxes quite possibly helped subsidize the price of that rolling obscenity.

October 21, 2004 В· Harry В· 5 Comments
Posted in: Other Stuff

5 Responses

  1. Dave - October 22, 2004

    The worst is *how* they sell that crap. There is a commercial (you know the one I’m talking about) where this young couple has just bought this nice, little, sporty car, and all of a sudden a stork flies down with a baby, and they *have* to go exchange it for an SUV.

    Now, these people were clearly not old enough to have three kids, unless they started real young. And if you don’t have three kids, you certainly don’t need anything bigger than a normal car (and even three is pushing it).

    I don’t understand this notion that once you have a family, all of a sudden you need to drive a tank.

  2. Harry - October 22, 2004

    The reality is, if you have 3 kids, you’re *much* better off with a minivan. Much more interior space, better mileage, better ride. And lower payments.

  3. scott - October 22, 2004

    “I don’t understand this notion that once you have a family, all of a sudden you need to drive a tank.”

    Whether it’s valid or not, the reasoning revolves around a preservation instinct. I personally know law enforcement types who will not put their family in anything but a big SUV because they have cleaned up after too many wrecks and they know who survives and who doesn’t. Again, whether it’s valid or not, they at least are running off of their own experience.

    That being said, I agree with Harry that most folks are better off with a minivan. My sister drives a Yukon because she’s “too young (34) to have a minivan”. My wife drives a Mercury Villager, because we are “not inclined to pay for a Yukon”.

  4. jim - October 22, 2004

    My wife drives a Tahoe and we don’t have kids. She started driving them while working for Enterprise Rent-a-Car and really liked them is why we ended up with one. She likes riding high and feels safer in it whether she actually is or not. It rides great, SUVs have come a long way in the last 10 years. They’re not just hulking beasts, if I remember right you liked riding in mine going to lunch or more than one occasion.

    It’s great for trips, we went to Memphis last weekend and brought my Grandma and either Shelley or her was sleeping on the back seat the whole trip. We’ve taken several other trips with 4 or more people and it’s nice to have. We can’t afford to park it and have another vehicle when it’s just her driving so true most of the time it is just her in it.

    If you asked Shelley about a minivan she’d rather walk, it’s all about perception. Whether you like it or not a vehicle is like a set of clothes that you wear everyday and she wouldn’t be caught dead in a minivan.

    And as far as the welfare thing, that’s just crap. It’s a tax loophole and if you own an SUV and don’t take advantage of it you’re stupid. It’s not the only reason we bought our Tahoe, Shelley wanted it before we knew we’d get the break, but it sure helped convince me when it came time to drop $40k on a vehicle.

    And to anyone complaining about gas prices when filling their SUV up, I say shut the f* up. I knew when we bought this truck that it would use a ton of gas, anybody that buys one knows it takes a ton of gas. It’s not like they got it home and realize all-of-a-sudden it’s a gas guzzler.

  5. Jammer - October 28, 2004

    Could it just be that people have come to like the things? High view, lotsa room to pack stuff, even when you don’t need it etc. etc? Plus the macho factor, of course.

    Marketing can be impressive, but its not magical. New Coke, anyone?