In times of crisis, car washing heals the mind
Despite the tense economic situation with high fuel prices and considerable inflation, car washing seems untouched. Most wash companies do not complain about a lack of customers. What is different this time?
During previous economic crises, car washes were hit too. The greater the financial burden, the fewer people washed their cars. At least in Germany, where Carwashpro.de recently did some research on the topic.
But something has changed. Even though we have been hit by a whole range of crises. First there was the financial crisis from 2007. This was then followed by a refugee crisis, with a peak (in Germany at least) around 2015. Then, in 2020, Covid came. And we are still recovering from the aftermath of this pandemic.
And now there is the war in the Ukraine, another crisis which is having a big impact on the world economy.
But..while many industries are seeing restrained consumer behavior, the car wash industry is going about their usual business. What is the reason for this change and why do car wash customers react differently today compared to the crises of the past?
Not all crises are the same
The German editor of CarwashPro has asked consumer psychologist Dr. Hans-Georg Häusel for some thoughts on this change. According to him, the reason lies in the different nature of the crisis that we are currently experiencing.
The crises of the past were comprehensive and (partly) global, but they were less close to the people. Now, people are experiencing the energy crisis much more directly and are affected by rising prices and the latent fear of a gas shortage in their own lives.
“In an uncontrollable world, man resorts to control mechanisms. He switches into crisis mode because he notices the consequences of the current crisis individually and in his own life and wants to counteract it,” explains Dr. Hans-Georg Häusel. He assesses the difference with the financial and refugee crises as these also had an impact on people’s lives in Germany, “but they were experienced as being far away.” People perceive the corona crisis and the current energy crisis more intensively and therefore react differently.
Washing as a crisis response
One widespread overreaction of people to a loss of control is the compulsion to wash, confirms Dr. Hans-Georg Häusel. In the case of car washing, there is also the aspect of caring for valuable things. These two connections thus lead to a trend in people’s consumer behavior that contradicts the crisis behavior of past crises.
The circumstances of the current crisis are therefore still relatively favorable for car wash operators, compared to other industries. Mainly because the core business currently seems to remain constant.
Nevertheless, car wash profits will be affected if prices for washing technology, accessories, spare parts and washing chemicals rise. Here, it is still important to keep a close eye on the development of the crisis in order to be able to react to changes in time.