Why cars are all about status

The crossover is not the mastery of product design, but rather a breakthrough in market research. Car companies did not stumble into this vanilla landscape by accident. You can be sure that every manufacturer is profiting more with this copycat approach than by differentiating and innovating. As competitive forces reach equilibrium, car companies don’t present an assortment of products equally spaced across the spectrum. Instead, they set up shop right next-door to the most lucrative location.

Brand experts insist that success comes from promoting your unique attributes, but in practice differentiation is less profitable than consolidation.

In game theory, this is called the Nash equilibrium and it can be seen at every intersection where a Burger King opens across the street from McDonald’s, or a Costco opens next door to a Sam’s Club. Competition doesn’t produce variety, it results in commoditization until we are left with 23 identical variations of the same vehicle.

Branding is a shortcut, remember? When we get addicted to brand shortcuts, actual product differentiation gets in the way of decision making. We don’t look for the car with the best built engine, we look for the logo that has been linked in the collective cultural conscious with build quality. Imagine if all the crossovers pictured looked dramatically different. All of a sudden the purchasing decision gets hard.

If I consider myself a Toyota person, but I like the body style of the Kia, I won’t be able to decide. If I am looking for luxury but the Ford looks more luxurious, I again get stuck. By homogenizing the style across all brands, every brand sells more because the decision is easier.

All you have to do is pick your brand and tell them which of 5 colors you prefer. You can’t blame the car companies for cashing in on the mindless masses.

We like to think of brands as a more or less accurate characterization of the products they make. What ends up happening is that a brand becomes less about the product and more of a description of the people who buy the products.

Toyota built its reputation on creating reliable vehicles, but today it is rare to find a car from any brand that doesn’t last 150,000 miles. The brand is no longer a representation of reliability, but a representation of a group of people who value reliability.

Mercedes isn’t the manifestation of luxury, but a symbol that appeals to people who can afford to pay extra to be associated with the idea of luxury. All cars contain foreign components, but purchasing a Ford or Chevy lets you apply an “American-made” sticker to your personality.

Car brands no longer reflect differentiation, but rather fashion.

and another one:

If you consider yourself an artist, you probably feel that life is much like a wind tunnel. The wind is always blowing directly in your face. You can’t tell if you are actually moving or if it is an illusion caused by the air moving around you.

The wind exposes your uniqueness which promptly get flagged for painful scrutiny. Corners get rounded, edges are sanded down, and if you give in to the resistance you will be transformed into a vanilla downgrade of your ideal self. The wind tunnel wants to turn you into a Ford Taurus.

Society doesn’t appreciate your uniqueness. Your value to the zombie community is your ability to conform. If you aren’t in the mold of a crossover they don’t know what to do with you.

How do you maintain your independence when the headwinds are so powerful? Why are we surprised that our art encounters wind resistance?

There are only two directions that you can go in the wind tunnel; you either get blown away, or move towards the wind. Take comfort in the feeling of resistance, it means you are heading in the right direction.

read the whole thing: The Zombie-mobile

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