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The white van: then and now
Home Autos & Trucks
By: John Hannen Email Article
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The white van man has always been recognised in society – but what are the origins of this stereotype? Originally, white vans were chosen for practical reasons. They were often chosen to transport food from location to location because they were the most efficient at keeping the produce cool before fridges were available in vans. However, now, more companies are choosing different colour vans, or having their vehicle wrapped to advertise their business and ensure they stand out on the road against competitors. Retailers of commercial vans, Van Monster, take a look over the history of the white van to establish how they have evolved over time to what they are today.

The story of the white van
The first recorded use of the white van stereotype in the press was in 1997, by The Sunday Times in an article titled ‘Number is up for the White Van Man’. Originally a British stereotype, the white van man was a term constructed for the driver of a small commercial van. Closer to present day, the term was used in road safety campaigns ran by Freight Transport Association in 2010.

White vans first became the most popular van colour when van drivers recognised white as the most efficient coloured van to keep produce cool inside. This is because the light colour of the vehicle is able to reflect more sunlight away from the vehicle. White, silver, and other light colours are coolest, reflecting about 60% of sunlight.

The term white van man once referred collectively to all van drivers, and it was not necessarily a positive stereotype. However, the modern day stereotype has evolved. A new study reveals that ‘white van drivers’ are now considered as diligent and hard working with average yearly earnings of £21,000. Dispelling the clichés, they therefore contribute over £35 billion annually to the UK economy and have an estimated turnover of £215 billion per year.

What colour is most popular van colour?
White has reigned top for quite some time now. In 2014, white still remained the most popular colour for vans, with 57% of new vans registered in white. However, some industry professionals believed this could have been down to cost rather than anything else. White light goods vehicle still seemed to dominate the roads, however, 2014 also experienced an influx in sales for silver vans – up 8% in the past decade.

The silver medal coincidentally goes to silver vans, taking second plan behind white vans for the most popular colour, followed by blue in third and red in fourth. Whilst white still reigns supreme in the world of vans, an increase in other colours shows that fleet managers are willing to step out their comfort zone and inject some colour into the fleet. However, for vehicle wrapping and customisation, white vans provide fleet managers with a blank canvas to market their business – another reason why white vans could have stuck at the top spot.

The rise is vehicle wrapping
Arbitron's In-Car Study claims UK drivers can spend an average of 20 hours on the roads every week (a 31% increase from the 2003) which equates to 1,040 hours a year, or a month and a half, for every driver. The Department of Transport revealed there were 35.6 million registered vehicles on the road in the UK. That is a lot of potential customers that you could reach through vehicle wrapping!

The investment return has great potential. According to experts, more than 70% of motorists are influenced positively by the products and companies that they see advertised on other vehicles. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, 98% of people on the roads said they noticed truck ads, with 35% of them actually studying these advertisements closely. On average, a busy vehicle can be seen by more than 3,000 people every hour, meaning just one car wrap could generate between 30,000 and 70,000 views per day! Vehicle wrapping is a cost-effective way to advertise your business that can generate significant results fast.

I write articles on a variety of subjects, this one was written in conjunction with Van Monster

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