This weekend I made the plunge into new vehicle ownership for the first time in 8 years.
Some history: The first car I ever “owned” was a leased, bottom-of-the barrel Toyota (color: aqua!) that I got in grad school and that moved me up to the great Northeast for my first job. Then I spent several years in New York City where a car was neither required nor desired nor affordable, Upon moving to a “driving city” several years later, I bought a Jeep liberty: it was on sale and what my girlfriend at the time decided we needed: in addition to being in my price range and NOT being a brand that offended my sensibilities. These were my only requirements at the time.
This weekend, I purchased a an amazing “luxury vehicle” that has hybrid technology and just about every stupid feature a car can have and have been trying to gleefully recite the L’oreal slogan to reinforce my happiness with the purchase – although I am still wrestling with it.
By way of context:
For the past 13 years of my career, I have spent a significant amount of my time studying and developing brand strategy for the consumer automotive industry.
I am conscious of the fact the past year of my life spent considering purchasing a new car and then actually going out and buying one has been a gut-wrenching experience to say the least. I know too much and (likely by virtue of my professional context) have a very polarized attitude towards brands in this space.
On the one hand, I know about all of product trends and competitive issues that manufacturers deal with. I know what they can do, can’t do and what everyone is going to do next. I am aware of all of the cultural and psychological implications of vehicle design as well as the critical and ultimate sell-in requirements for consumer targeting and branding.
Therefore, on the other hand, I am prone to scrutinizing whether or not my choice in vehicle is based on a cultural pre-disposition – or aversion – to a particular vehicle’s brand message and what my choice of that brand will say about me – whether I want it to or not. Then I have to decide whether or not I care. Finally, i have to decide if I am okay with the degree to which my brand choice is based on value (e.g. reputable brand, resale, cost-benefit of features and performance) versus some sort of esoteric measure.
I have listened to people tell me which brands are appropriate for “someone like me”, which brands are most / least reliable, what their personal experiences with their own vehicles has been like and their ultimate rationale for their choices. I have actively scrutinized who’s points of view I relate to most. I have gone over the numbers. Finally, I went to battle with my ego.
And lets not even go in to the fact that I am so hyper-conscious of the state of social inequality in the world and pervading / emerging macro-social values that even considering a luxury vehicle made me want to throw up in my mouth a little bit.
In the end…I am not really sure who won and how I feel about it. Did I just cave in and get what my wife wanted (like the last car, where I cared so little that I just let my girlfriend pick)? Did I submit to my ego? Did I jut by the expensive toy because I can or because it is really a great value? Did I indulge in something that and has everything I could ever need / want in it because I feel entitled by virtue of the years of hard work I put into building a successful career?
In any case – I find the situation baffling at least and ironic at best.I welcome comments of both empathy and good natured ribbing.
- Lexus Named Top Car Brand in Consumer Reports Rankings – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- China Luxury Car Sales Seen Beating U.S. by 2016 (bloomberg.com)
- Ford’s Lincoln Luxury Sales Sputter Even After Super Bowl Ads – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Automobiles body seeks roll-back of extra tax on SUVs (thehindu.com)
- Branding Design (nuriasanchisdesign.wordpress.com)
11 thoughts on “The Self-Conscious Context Of Car Shopping: What It’s Like When You Know Too Much and Buy The Luxury SUV Anyway”
I want to know what kind of car you bought! Then, I will know whether I should be empathetic, giving you a good natured ribbing, or totally appalled…
Lol. Fair enough. I went with the 2013 Lexus RX450 hybrid
Jamie, you earned it, you deserve it, so enjoy it. Love You Mommy
Note to self: don’t write blogs about my mother. 😉
Interesting, I may do a post about a Subaru commercial, but now I’m a bit self-conscious by the amount of knowledge you have about the industry! (Also, I’m having trouble embedding the YouTube video in the post) Anyway, I’m sure your decision was a peppered with many elements, but either way it sounds like you ended up with a great product. The struggles of an anthropologist 😉 #anthropologistproblems
Love the hashtag.
I can feel it burning up Twitter already!
I want to see that Subaru post, btw…
Sure! I’m working on it… need to figure out why the video isn’t working. I’ll keep you posted!
Copy the share link from YouTube and do the insert media from URL option
Sweet, got it! I’ll publish soon. Thx!!