The "Focus Family" could hold the key to winning the General Election according to the RAC Foundation today (22nd April).
The Ford Focus has been the UK’s top selling car since 1999 and it is the car of choice for many voters living in influential constituencies. Winning over the "Focus Family" could swing the election. The Focus appeals to a cross section of society - young and old, male and female, and the Focus Family would make an ideal focus group representing middle Britain.
UK political parties have bought computer programs* that collate postcodes with other commercial data such as reading, viewing and shopping habits, to tell them which voters living in marginal seats should be targeted. Canvassers out on the streets may now well be looking to target owners of particular cars that fit their political caricatures:
The "blue-collar entrepreneurs" are self-reliant people, who have worked hard to achieve a comfortable and independent lifestyle. Most likely to drive a Mondeo Ghia or a Peugeot 406 their cars are bought for comfort and convenience and are mostly bought secondhand. Politically, they are most likely to be concerned about costs of petrol.
The "comfortable greys" are pensioners who own their own homes or have disposable income beyond the basic state pension. Most likely to drive a Honda Civic or a Nissan Primera, they prefer cars which offer comfort and generous specifications and which have a reputation for reliability. Politically they will be concerned about journey reliability and congestion.
The "rural dwellers" are people who live not just outside major population centers but deep in the countryside in small communities. Most likely to likely to drive a Volvo or Suburu Legacy. Cars are very important and many families may have two or three. Their cars tend to be old, infrequently replaced and they will clock up a high mileage. Politically they will be most concerned by high fuel and running costs and speeding on rural roads.
The "status symbols" group have rewarding careers, live in sought after locations, and are a focus for other people’s aspirations. Most likely to drive a BMW 5 series, a Mercedes SLK or Lexus RX, they drive luxury brands that make a statement. Politically, they are most likely to be concerned about the proliferation of speed cameras and company car tax.
The "happy families" group focus on career, home and family. They are mostly younger age groups either married or in a long-term relationship. Most likely to drive a Renault Scenic, Vauxhall Zafira for the "school-gate mums" or a top of the range compact. Politically, they are most likely to be concerned about road safety issues, the cost of motoring and are willing to participate in schemes such as car sharing.
The "semi-detached" group live in comfortable homes in mature suburbs with older or independent children. Most likely to drive a Rover 75 or VW Passat which they change regularly. Politically they are most likely to be concerned by illegal and irresponsible behaviour amongst other drivers, and what will happen to their Rover warranties.
The "close- knit" category are people who live and work within strong local communities mainly within inner city areas or small industrial towns. Most likely to drive a second-hand reliable Vauxhall Astra or Toyota Corolla. Politically most likely to be concerned about running costs and consumer rights.
The "metropolitan" group are young, well educated people, cosmopolitan in their tastes and liberal in their views. Most likely to drive an Audi A3 or MG F, they drive cars that make a statement, and are individualistic in their tastes. Politically, they will be concerned about the environmental impacts of road building schemes and residential parking issues.
The "welfare state" group are comprised of people struggling to achieve the material and personal rewards, assumed to be open to all in an affluent society. If they do own a car at all, it is most likely to be a secondhand BMW or old Mercedes and these are treated with loving care. Politically they are most likely to be concerned about car crime and vandalism.
The "council estate" group live on large provincial estates, where they are reliant on buses for mobility and television for entertainment. If anything, they are most likely to own an old Fiat Panda or small Kia, maintained by friends rather than garages. Politically they are most likely to be concerned about the costs of motoring, and access to reliable public transport.
Commenting Edmund King, RAC Foundation’s Executive Director said;
" Politicians would be wise to turn their attention to the "Focus Family" rather than "Mondeo man" as they now epitomise middle-Britain. But voters wishing to avoid political canvassers this general election may wish to hide their cars.
"The parties are all targeting different segments of the population to help swing marginal seats. With 32 million motorists out there, pollsters may well utilise the strong parallels between choice of car and political leanings.
"If any political party can count on the support of the Focus Family then they wil be half way to the winning post."Published 23 April 2005