What do you think about when picking a car colour? The opposite sex, safety, or maybe even fashion trends. Well, did you know it costs more to insure a red car over any other colour – but why? Do they go faster? Well, we can confirm that’s an urban myth, but the colour red represents something very clear about your personality…normally associated with danger, excitement, passion, fire, love and…speed. But does our car colour really say something directly about the person we are? Could it not just be a colour.
A survey released last month by PPG industries, a global industrial manufacturer across the car and aviation industry, says that the most popular European consumer car colour in 2011 was black (26%), second was white (19%), third was silver (16%), fourth was grey (15%), fifth was blue (9%), and sixth was red (7%) – the rest of the colours chosen were either greens, natural colours, shades of gold, or bespoke sprays. In short, the majority of Europeans chose neutral and plain colours, with the most popular brighter colour choices, either blue or red.
It is rather apt that the most popular car colour of choice during these tough financial times is black – associated with death, evil, formality, and power, as well as white – associated with goodness, purity, perfection, and charity. While there are a number of factors that enter our brains when we are deciding what car colour to get, from our mood, marital status, stage in life; not to mention each of our individual personality characteristics and tastes – it seems that during these times of financial instability people purchasing cars wanted a simple and austere colour – but why would that have any bearing on the financial state of play?
The AA believe that re-sale value is one of the first reasons behind picking a car colour. We need it to be seen to be desirable, therefore we pick a neutral and simple colour, this theory also works at the top end of the market. “For example a Ferrari in any colour other than red may be less desirable,” an AA spokesperson told Humans Invent. “If you choose the wrong colour, you might find it harder to sell at the best price when you come to sell it on,“ with price differences between the same Ferrari models in different colours reaching up to £4000.
This would explain why the majority of Europeans opted for safe and neutral colours that wouldn’t deter anyone from buying their car in the future, particularly if they might have to sell it during the current financial climate.
The market for a Ferrari isn’t comparable across the board, as people don’t just pick red Ferrari cars because they’ll be good for depreciation, they pick them because of their history, engineering prowess, and effortless style.
But is there a reason why Ferrari aligned itself with the famous rosso corso – ‘racing red’? And therefore because of this connotation there must be a certain type of person that is drawn to red cars – traditionally we would associate the thrill seeker with a red motor – or is it simply a cry for help?
Psychologist Dr Ingrid Collins, consultant psychologist at the London Medical Centre explains to Humans Invent that red plays a huge part in everyday life – signifying danger, and by association excitement: “You notice in nature – we are animals after all – the animals who need to attract the most attention are the ones with the brightest fur or plumage.”
In the animal kingdom to have the brightest plumage can make all the difference, with the pecking order within groups of animals changing depending on colour – therefore could this be the case with people who purchase red cars? Do we suddenly put a Ferrari owner on a pedestal?
Ferrari have associated themselves with an exciting colour that embodies speed and fun, that matched their ambitions to be at the pinnacle of motorsport with Formula 1 – it is now strange to imagine a red Ferrari not being the norm?
While it’s easy to think that those picking bright shades of red are only doing so to attract attention, Dr Collins isn’t convinced that’s the main reason: “It’s actually done more for themselves I think. Colour is the name we give to the visible chunk of the electromagnetic spectrum of energy. Colour has wavelengths or frequencies – it’s a form of energy just as heat and sound, and so we’ve found that different colours boost different types of mood, or different sensations of physical well being.”
With that in mind, it is possible that your car could have an impact on your mood, in addition to being a reflection of your personality. Dr Collins believed that the car user who picks red are “buyers that want to be seen to sporty or energetic, it might not necessarily be just a cry for attention.”
While the colour you pick, says a lot about you, it can also have an impact on those around you, with colours found to have an impact on behavioural patterns.
“A few years back,” Dr Collins says, “there was a school that decided to do an experiment; one week they asked the children to come dressed all in one colour, and the next week another colour, and the next week another colour. They found it was quite significant – the changes in the behaviour of the children with the different colours. Different colours have been shown over time, to boost different aspects of human activity. It’s a fascinating area.”
So while red cars don’t go faster, If nothing else, it certainly seems like the owners of red cars will be the ones trying to get ahead, while it’s also a great colour to give you a boost and have a little bit of fun.
But what does it mean to buy a blue car, or another colour? “If they want to be calm, then blue is the better colour,” Dr Collins tells Humans Invent. And if you genuinely want the world to think you’re full of confidence? “If you’re feeling generous or outgoing, white is the colour of choice!”
The psychology behind picking colours is influenced by a number of factors, and we are certainly seeing consumer habits change during difficult financial times, one thing we can settle on is – red cars don’t go faster – it does seem though, their owners have a lot more fun.