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Ford survey reveals modern white van man: Myth verses reality

23 March 2007

A new survey reveals the real White Van Man

  • 71 per cent think of themselves as careful and considerate drivers
  • He wants to look good: 24 per cent are into designer clothes brands
  • He likes to be healthy: 62 per cent do not smoke and 73 per cent try to eat healthily

BRENTWOOD, Essex 16 March, 2007 - A Ford survey carried out by poll company GfK has revealed the myths and realities of today's White Van Man and how road users perceive him.

It was in the early 1990's that van drivers first became know as 'White Van Man'. The Ford survey found that 98% of van drivers have heard of the term although 74 per cent of them think it is an insulting term or doesn't apply to them personally.

Today’s definitive White Van Man is male, about 42 years old, married and wants to retire early. His favourite foods are curry and roast dinners and a significant number favour organic foods. His favourite drink is beer and he doesn’t smoke. Top factors in the job satisfaction stakes are client satisfaction and finishing jobs on time. He feels he is professional and wants to be perceived as such. Women road users are more wary of van drivers than their male counterparts.

The Survey in Detail
The survey went deep into the psyche and lifestyle of White Van Man (WVM) and concluded that Ford Transit is the best known van on Britain's roads.  In addition, the survey highlighted that 98% of van drivers have heard of the term White Van Man, and that women are less positive than men in their perception of WVM (61% female versus 56% male).                                          

Today's White Van Man

  • WVM is male, about 42 years old, and married/co-habiting (84%) and wants to retire early (41%). His favourite foods are curry (14%), roast dinners (14%), Chinese (12%) and pasta (12%).  43% eat organic food. His favourite drinks are beer (49%), tea (11%) and wine (10%).  He doesn’t smoke (62%).
  • He reads The Sun (38%) and listens to local music stations (32%) and BBC Radio 2 (28%).
  • Other favourite media are News of the World (39%), Daily Mail (21%), Mail on Sunday (22%). 19% read their local newspaper and 36% read motoring magazines.
  • Top entertainment is TV (92%) followed by radio (75%).
  • His favourite sport is football – to watch (79%) and play (37%).
  • 24% are into designer clothing brands.
  • He has been driving a van for around 15 years and 71% see themselves as a careful and considerate road user.
  • The vast majority (74%) do not identify themselves with WVM – in fact, 37% find the term 'rude and insulting.' Only 11% are proud to be called WVM.

Myth versus reality

  • Two thirds (68%) of the driving public believe he has a tattoo. Only 33 per cent of van drivers claim to have one.
  • He’s at the front of the pack with IT with 68% using the internet.
  • Satellite navigation and air conditioning are at the top of their shopping list for a van.
  • 85% care how customers see them
  • 69% like to keep their van clean and shiny
  • More than half (52%) care how other car drivers see them
  • 52% of road users consider van drivers professional.
  • WVM has a responsible attitude to van maintenance.

His van

  • 41% think their van should be more comfortable than their car.
  • 91% of WVM drivers think people who drive while speaking on the phone are dangerous.
  • 58% say that their van breaking down is like losing their right arm.
  • 39% see the brand of their van as important, mainly as an indicator of reliability and quality as well as a reflection of their business.
  • 90% feel safe when driving a van.
  • Most vans are white (64%), blue (13%), red (8%) and silver (7%).

On the road/on the job

  • 45% are irritated by drivers who cut them up.
  • His top pressures are finding enough time to do jobs and keeping to schedule.
  • Top factors in the job satisfaction stakes are client satisfaction and finishing jobs on time.
  • 80% eat in the cab of their van with 26% using transport cafes.
  • 1% are vegetarian. 73% try to eat healthily.                             

Steve Kimber, commercial vehicles director, Ford of Britain said: "It’s important to us at Ford to know what our drivers want and aspire to. This survey has given us valuable information: today's White Van man wants a vehicle that is as comfortable as his car and the latest features in the cab."