Why is grey the UK’s most popular car colour?

Karen Haller 01
Karen Haller
why is grey the uks most popular car colour

It’s claimed Henry Ford would say to his customers you can have any colour you want, as long as it is black. Things have come a long way in the car industry since then. There has never been a time when we have had access to such a variety of colours in pigments, finishes and coatings.

And yet a recent survey by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders found that 25.7% of new cars bought this year were grey, 20.1% black, and 16.7% white.

So, why are we ditching the colour and going back to the so-called ‘neutrals’?

I was invited to a discussion exactly this on BBC Radio Scotland yesterday, with the fabulous Kaye Adams, to give insights into the psychology of colour and what might lie behind this trend.

The Psychology of Colour

We’re attracted to the colours that we have an emotional connection with, as it supports how we are feeling, want to feel or how we would like other to perceive us and interact with us.

It’s likely we aren’t even aware this is happening as we’re typically only 20% conscious of the colour choices we make.

And I went on to say that if we find ourselves drawn to brighter, more vibrant colours. This is usually favoured by those who are more outwardly expressive, they might have a more extrovert nature. They definitely don’t mind standing out. They are usually more optimistic and have a fun, playful side. And if this isn’t them, then it’s likely to be qualities they want to have.

Psychology behind grey

Back to grey and why it’s at poll position for the fifth year in a row. You could be excused for thinking you can have any colour as long as it’s grey.

So why the popularity for this colour?

There are the practical reasons, such as the belief it’s better for resale, or it’s a company car, or it doesn’t show up the scratches.

If you are looking for a car (other than the fun fiat 500, mini’s or beetles) then they usually come in, you guess it, grey, black and white. Conservative, unobtrusive, understated.

Nevertheless, the psychology behind grey is interesting.

Grey is the colour that retreats and hides. It bit like how you might feel on an overcast grey day.

While bright, vibrant colours shout ‘look at me’, grey is hoping it can slip by unnoticed. It’s the colour that doesn’t want to stand out. It doesn’t draw attention to itself.

I do wonder, if all the practical (logical) reasons for buying a grey car were removed and we were able to pick the colour that we loved, that bought us joy, would we still see grey at poll position? I don’t think so.

Listen to the full radio interview

If you’re interested, check out the radio interview where I was joined by the UK’s leading female motorsport, classic car and automotive TV broadcaster Amanda Stretton, and entertainment reporter Laura Anne Boyd. We shared our love for one vibrant colour that could add a bit of flair to the current trend.

So, if you could pick any colour for your car, what would it be and why? Let me know in the comments below.

Colours that sell 

Are you interested in finding out more about what makes a colour sell?

Ultimately, any colour will sell, but the right colour or palette of colours for your target market will sell better.

It’s all about understanding what colours appeal to your audience and having the colours speak the right emotional language that triggers those all-important buying responses. If you’re unsure about what colours will sell best for your target market, hit reply, and we can have a chat.

Colourfully yours,

p.s. you can listen to the full radio interview here (10:42 minutes)


Image: Ryan Searle

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