COLOGNE, Germany – It’s perhaps no surprise that France and Italy are fond of cream-coloured cars given their famous café cultures. But why do buyers in the Czech Republic favour blue far more than any other nation? And the Irish may be traditionally associated with green, but they much prefer driving silver.
These are but a few of the findings of a study by Ford that looked at car colour preferences by nation across Europe. Understanding preferences across the multicultural continent helps Ford stay in step with customers and stock the right vehicles in dealer showrooms.
“There is something very personal to buyers about the colour of their cars, and when you look a little deeper you see that the culture, fashion and tastes in the markets across Europe have a major impact of the colours that customers choose,” says Julie Francis, who is on the colour and material design team for Ford of Europe.
Colour trends – like fashion – change year to year. For example, a small but growing number of buyers are choosing brown, copper and other earth tones. “It took people a little while to warm up to the brown hues; they had previously been perceived as ‘old fashioned’ – think 70s, 80s,” says Francis. “But the brown tones are making a comeback in fashion, interior furniture, and now automotive, and have been revived with exciting interior to exterior combinations.”
White remains the runaway hit in Turkey (49% of vehicles sold), overwhelmingly the number one choice of Ford vehicle colour. Turkey, with its often sweltering climate, also picked the lowest percentage of black vehicles. Denmark, by contrast, chose black as their top finish and were least likely to opt for white.
But geographical borders and climate do not always determine the colour tastes of car buyers. Norway and Portugal, for example, share the same six favourite colours.
Only one country has a number one colour other than black, white or silver – the Czech Republic. One quarter of Czech buyers choose blue Fords in 2010. Czech buyers also choose the highest percentage of red among all nations – mirroring the dominant red and blue colours in the Czech flag.
But patriotism only goes so far. The Netherlands didn’t even figure when it came to orange vehicles, while the Irish were the third least likely country to buy green.
So how does Ford use this data to make sure it offers the right colours in the right countries?
“For major markets, Germany, for example, we know that blacks and darker colours are always popular so we factor that in to our planning,” says Vince Shaw, marketing and product strategy manager for Ford of Europe. “Clearly we want our vehicles to be attractive to our customers and colour is a big part of that. In fact, one of the success stories has been Hot Magenta and Squeeze – bright red and green – offered on the Fiesta. They have both sold extremely well, so it’s clear that our customers are keen to have something more individual. We’ve learnt from that and in the future will offer more unique colours not found on the usual palette.”
There is also evidence that vehicle colour trends are just as prevalent as trends in other fashion markets.
“Red used to be by far and away the most popular colour, but then that was supplanted,” explains Shaw. “It looks like white is in the ascendancy now. Dark greys, blacks and blues are always popular, as they are in men or women’s clothing, but just like any other fashion the different car colours come in and out of fashion.”
It’s therefore important to notice trends and react to them quickly when it comes to vehicle design.
“Identifying rising trends and selecting signature colours are a big part of what we do, and we know how important it is to get the right colour into the market at the right time,” Francis adds. “Too early and it won’t have registered on the customers’ radar, too late and the popularity of a particular colour will have already reached its peak,”
And with 2011 seeing the launch of the all-new Ford Focus, boasting striking colours like Candy Yellow, Candy Red and Mars Red, or the stunning Tangerine Scream previewed on the Focus ST model at the Paris Motor Show, this year may well see some hot new colour trends emerge throughout Europe.
|Top Five Countries in Each Colour (by percentage of Ford vehicles sold in 2010)|
||Czech Republic (24.5%)
||Great Britain (19.7%)
||Czech Republic (2.4%)
||Czech Republic (15%)