LONDON (3rd July 2014) – A new study published today by high value motor insurer Hiscox shows that our heart rules our head when it comes to buying a car. While we want to believe we are acting rationally, the report shows much of the decision is actually based on emotions.
The Hiscox Head vs. Heart Motor study lifts the lid on the conscious and subconscious influences that come into play when we buy a car, with some surprising results. Its findings show that people say that the responsible ‘head’ factors such as reliability, value, safety, insurance premiums, fuel efficiency and shape are more important to them. However the research uncovered that a number of ‘heart’ factors are more important to people than they admit. These ‘heart’ factors were comfort, interior design, the manufacturer, colour, gadgets and speed.
Rather than relying on verbal responses alone, the Hiscox study also tested subconscious attitudes, since 90% of thought processes underlying decision-making happen unconsciously.
The research reveals some fascinating contradictions. Although people said reliability, value for money and fuel efficiency were the most important to them, their subconscious thought was focusing on entirely different things – comfort, reliability and safety. If we let our hearts rule, we would base our decisions on these last three factors. Reliability was closest to male hearts, while women subconsciously preferred comfort.
Dr David Lewis, author of The Brain Sell and MD at Mindlab, the research agency involved in this study, explained: "Even when making a costly purchase like a car, most of our buying decisions are unconscious. People believe they buy with logic and analysed thought but we can clearly see this isn’t so. If we bought solely on facts, we’d be dissatisfied, as we would be masking the real decision making process.
“When questioned about their car preferences people tend to provide socially acceptable answers and to remain silent about any responses they feel might put them in a bad light. In this study though, we used sophisticated techniques to discover subconscious feelings and emotions. We found age differences, regional differences and even gender differences – such as speed being an important factor to men at a subconscious level in the same way as design is to women.”
Steve Morse, Head of Motor at Hiscox UK, commented: "Buying a car is a multi-sensory experience. Our study shows that we have an emotive response to cars; it is not just the way the car looks but how the engine sounds, the upholstery feels and smells, the way the steering wheel feels beneath the hands, as well as the subjective value of how we feel behind the wheel. Subconsciously, we let our hearts rule our heads and are going to be guided more by our emotional reaction than our rational response the next time we go to buy a car.”
The study also highlights some key regional differences:
Value for money when buying a car is more important to the Scots (10% above average) than to any other region, as is fuel efficiency (15% above average) – suggesting they are more concerned with getting the best deal both when it comes to buying and running their vehicle than the other nine regions surveyed. Value for money is least important to Londoners (17% below average).
Steve Morse expands, “It’s not just the everyday cars that can be fuel efficient. Porsche’s new hybrid supercar, the 918 Spyder, can average between 25 and 30 miles per gallon when it’s not using its 875 bhp engine to its full capability.”
Looking at people’s gut feelings, the study found that safety is least important to car owners from Wales (14% below average) and most important to the Scottish (18% above average).
More people in Yorkshire & Humberside (11% above average) say they take a lot of pride in their car, more than in any other region.
Subconsciously, car colour is least important to Londoners (35% below average) and most important to those in the South East and South West (16% and 15% above average respectively).
Steve Morse added, “Some supercar manufacturers offer extensive exterior colour options but it’s not just the exterior that needs your attention. If you’re buying a Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster, you will need to decide whether you’re going to have black, yellow, grey, orange or red ceramic brakes.”
Speed (7% above average) was most important to Londoners and least important to the Scottish (7% below average).
Subconsciously, comfort is most important to people from London and from the South West (29% and 20% above average) – and least important to the Scottish (20% below average).
When looking at the heart values, gadgets appear to be most important to people from Wales, the North West and South West (7%, 7% and 9% above average), least important to those in the North East (15% below average). Interior design was very important to those from Wales and the North West (20% and 18% above average), also least important to those in the North East and Scotland (48% and 22% below average).
Steve Morse explains, “The scope of cutting edge technology for those with a less stringent budget is extensive. You only have to look at Rolls-Royce’s list of optional extras, finishes and trims to see that there’s a configuration for even the most discerning driver. It’s not all about the driver. Rolls-Royce also offer a range of lambswool footmats for maximum passenger comfort.”
The manufacturer is very important to the Welsh (46% more than average) but not to Scottish participants (32% below average).
For further information, please contact:
0203 701 7510 / 07973 316 818
0207 448 6619 / 07813 974 657
About The Hiscox Head vs. Heart study
The Hiscox Head vs Heart study was commissioned by high value motor insurer Hiscox and conducted by research company Mindlab, based in Brighton. It was designed to explore the car purchasing decision process and which aspects are important to people’s hearts (subconscious factors) or their heads (conscious factors).
To find out which aspects of a car are subconsciously important to people when thinking about purchasing a car (the ‘heart factors’), Implicit Associations Tests were used. Implicit Associations Test is a sorting task in which respondents are told to respond as fast as possible to words appearing on the screen, for half the test ranking key words important or unimportant. How quickly participants responded shows how strongly the subconsciously link the word to being important or unimportant. To ensure a subconscious response is captured, only responses in less than 1.4 seconds were measured. A total of 1,125 participants completed tests addressing the importance of the following 12 factors: value for money, fuel efficiency, safety, insurance costs, comfort, reliability, colour, shape, interior design, top speed, gadgets and the manufacturer.
To find out which aspects of a car are consciously important to people when thinking about purchasing a car (the ‘head factors’), a survey was conducted with the same 1,125 respondents which examined how important the 12 elements mentioned above are to them when deciding what car to buy. They were also asked additional questions related to
their past car purchasing experiences.
The study was undertaken in February 2014.
Hiscox, the international specialist insurer, is headquartered in Bermuda and listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:HSX). There are three main underwriting divisions in the Group - Hiscox London Market, Hiscox Re and Hiscox Retail (which includes Hiscox UK and Europe, Hiscox Guernsey, Hiscox USA and subsidiary brand, DirectAsia). Hiscox underwrites internationally traded, bigger ticket business and reinsurance through Hiscox Re and Hiscox London Market. Through its retail businesses in the UK, Europe and the US Hiscox offers a range of specialist insurance for professionals and business customers, as well as homeowners.
For further information visit www.hiscoxgroup.com.