What Your Car Trunk Says About You
Market Researcher Explores the Junk in People's Cars to Gather Consumption Information
By CHRIS WOODYARD
LOS ANGELES, July 6, 2008
Wearing latex gloves, Kelley Styring picks through the interior of a Chevrolet Malibu like a CSI technician searching for clues.
What you have in your car and where you put it can help market researchers figure out design flaws.
(Getty Images)The contents — every candy wrapper, napkin or torn-up plastic foam cup — is laid out on a sheet, logged and photographed as owner and paid volunteer Dennis Shaffier looks on. Passersby in the Northridge Fashion Center's garage glance nervously as if they'd come upon a crime scene.
They haven't. Styring, a market researcher, is on a seven-city swing to study what people carry around in their cars. Armed with her inventories and a survey of hundreds more car owners, she hopes to tell the auto and products makers sponsoring her work what they're doing right or wrong.
Do moist towelettes stay moist in a hot car? Where do people squirrel away all the extra house keys she keeps unearthing in cars?
And those "cup" holders? "Lots of things end up in cup holders," Styring says. She's found coins, a golf ball, gloves and an air freshener, to name a few.