British Car Wash

A recent poll in the United Kingdom asked 1,139 motorists how often they wash their cars. The results, reported in the Belfast Telegraph and elsewhere, reveal that some geographical regions are more concerned about having clean cars than others, with Scots taking the prize for most washes.

In Scotland, 60 percent of car owners clean their vehicles at least once per month. But in southern England, only 45 percent wash them as often. The average for monthly washes in the UK is 49 percent. The poll even learned that British men are about 8 percentage points more likely than women to wash their cars at least monthly.

Midlanders — the equivalent of our Rust Belt dwellers — are much more likely to wash their cars at home. (“Why pay somebody for something we can do ourselves!?”) And the younger you are in the UK, the more likely you are to stop by a car wash location to pay for it.

Why are these results relevant to a car wash business in the United States?

They’re not. But they’re interesting. And more importantly, the poll offers an important lesson about marketing and the power of demographics data. Presumably, depending on where you are in the U.S., your customers are different. They may be older, younger, male, or female. They may describe themselves as belonging to one racial or ethnic group or another. They may drive BMWs, or they may drive Ford pickups.

As you’re creating marketing materials, these demographics data will help you decide whom to target and how. And it’s not so difficult to collect this information: Just watch and tally who’s bringing their vehicles to your car wash.

So for example, if your biggest customer group is black men aged 20-29, you won’t want to send out a direct mailing featuring prominently a photo of a middle-aged white woman at the wheel of a minivan. If your customers even open it, they almost certainly won’t read it. In fact, you’ll probably want to eschew paper correspondence entirely in favor of some kind of social media campaign. And not all of your choices are this obvious. But how you choose to market your business should depend greatly on whom you’re marketing it toward.

If you try doing your own poll like the one in England, let us know how it goes, and we’ll publish your results.