Why is demand for vans up 231% this year?

By Dan Monheit, originally shared on Carsales.com 15.01.21

Sure, some of it may be to do with the need to transport vast quantities of hoarded toilet paper, but that can’t be the only reason Aussies are flocking online to buy vans.

Turns out, Behavioural Science may have the answer. Cue the Projection Bias, our tendency to assume that our future selves will have the exact same set of tastes, preferences and priorities that our current selves do. It’s the very reason we shouldn’t grocery shop when we feel hungry, get a tattoo the moment inspiration strikes, or sign up for a gym membership on our first 6am visit. Thanks to the Projection Bias, whether we’re hungry, inspired or highly motivated, we can’t imagine ever feeling any other way.

With international travel off the cards for the foreseeable future, it’s fair to assume we’re planning to make the most of our own, expansive backyard like never before. For some, that’s planning the next camping, fishing or hiking adventure. For others, it’s finding the best spot to surf, ski or cycle. Whatever it is that people are aspiring to do, the one thing they all have in common is the need to get somewhere far away, with more equipment than you can carry on your back. Did somebody say van?

Though deep down we know it won’t be like this forever, our current, inspired, outdoorsy selves really don’t care. When it comes to decision making — even around long-term commitments like car ownership — the ‘right here, right now’ is all-conquering.

People will make all sorts of decisions based on the assumption that they’ll always feel exactly as they do, right here, right now. Though on average Aussies only replace their cars once every 10 years, we’re making long-term decisions on what car we want to own based on our short-term preferences. Even though things may be back to “normal” before we know it, The Projection Bias provides a golden opportunity to capitalise on motivation in the moment.