Hybrid Cars: Chariots of
the New “Metrospiritual” - Save the Environment and Save Money With Tax
April 14th 2006
Recent media buzz has suggested that people looking to buy a hybrid car
to save money would be better off putting change in their piggybanks.
But what these pundits don’t seem to understand is that it’s not their
purse-strings that motivate the hybrid buyer; it’s their heartstrings.
In the world of marketing, hybrid cars appeal to a specific demographic
category known as LOHAS: Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. A more
trendy term for this group of Whole Foods-shopping, Prius-driving,
tea-drinking, yoga-practicing men and women is “metrospiritual.” It’s a
$227 billion market segment that strives to make sure its buying habits
jibe with its values—and it’s growing.
Car manufacturers recognize the buying power of this group, as evidenced
by the increasing number of hybrid models being launched or planned.
Toyota alone says it will introduce 10 new models in the next five
years, and J.D. Power and Associates predicts that there will be as many
as 52 hybrid models on sale in the next six years.
industry is taking notice, too. Travelers personal lines offers a 10%
discount on auto insurance for hybrid car drivers and has launched
http://www.hybridtravelers.com to give hybrid drivers a place to
share their stories, keep up on other state and federal incentives for
hybrid car ownership and, while they’re at it, register to win the
metrospiritual’s favorite toy: an iPod nano.
“Hybrid drivers tend to fall into a ‘preferred group.’ Our program is
about rewarding that group,” says Greg Toczydlowski, senior vice
president of product management for Travelers. “And considering the
growth potential of the marketplace, we want to be well positioned to
meet its needs.”
Meeting that market’s need means understanding that it’s not all about
the money; driving a hybrid car puts people firmly in a community just
as plainly as does driving a Hummer. A hybrid car says, “I care about
the environment. I care about decreasing oil and gas dependency. And
yes, I will be having organic wine with dinner tonight.”
New York is
getting on board, too. It recently announced a new "Green Pass" discount
plan for motorists who use E-ZPass and drive the most fuel-efficient
hybrid cars. The program is part of Gov. George Pataki’s Strategic
Energy Action Plan, which also includes a Long Island pilot program
called "Clean Pass." That program allows hybrid vehicle drivers to use
the faster HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) expressway lane.
The fact that in most cases the savings at the gas pump don’t appear to
outweigh the higher sticker price of hybrid vehicles only serves to
bolster that sense of community. The hybrid owner has made a choice to
value saving the environment over saving money and if they get to feel a
little smug about it as they pull in to a free municipal parking spot
reserved for hybrids, well, why not?
By Mela Kucera, APR
Imre Communications — capturing the imagination.
305 Washington Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21204
Imre Communications, LLC is an MS&L Global Network Member.
Keywords and misspellings: hibrid car electric pryus acord