A new University of Michigan study reveals that people between the ages of 55 and 64 are most likely to be purchasing a new vehicle – one new car was sold for every 14.6 licensed drivers in that age bracket – suggesting that automakers should be targeting that demographic when trying to move cars from the showroom. The report, comparing licensed driver data in the US from 2007 to 2011, also revealed that drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 were the least likely to buy a new vehicle, as just one new car was sold for every 221.8 licensed drivers in that segment.

As expected, the most active buyers also happen to have the most wealth. Yet it wasn't always so black and white. Four years ago, drivers between the ages of 35 and 44 were most likely to purchase a car, but that segment suffered the greatest financial losses during the recession, which knocked down their spending ability. Older consumers have started spending more, plus there are more older licensed drivers on the road these days. Both of these facts contribute to their more impressive sales numbers.

But don't expect automakers to rewrite any marketing plans just yet. Even though the study seems to reveal that automakers should refocus their marketing attention toward those over 55 years of age, that plan could potentially backfire; not only are younger audiences turned off by such marketing, but older consumers are also drawn by ad campaigns targeting a younger demographic as it suggests to them that the product is youthful and hip. Ah, the power of advertising... cue the Kia hamsters.


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  • 49 Comments
      johnb
      • 1 Year Ago
      older people still have some money. young people have debt and no jobs. the economy sucks.
        Alfonso T. Alvarez
        • 1 Year Ago
        @johnb
        Younger people who got the right college degrees or technical training are doing just fine - unlike those who just pi$$ and moan about how the economy sucks, they went out and worked and studied their behinds off to get there. Many still have college debt, but for someone who got a degree in an in-demand engineering or medical field, jobs are plentiful and pay very well!! The days of expecting to make a solid living without investing in your own future with either technical training or college are LONG GONE!!
          bookemd
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Alfonso T. Alvarez
          Preach!
          superchan7
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Alfonso T. Alvarez
          I don't disagree that with the right skills and determination, one can find something to survive on. However, the reality is that the worldwide economy isn't the bubble it once was, and it's understandable to see people complaining. People work their buns off to get the right skills and chase the right jobs, but many still have shaky financial stability that their parents often cannot grasp. I think there's a generation gap in the definition of success: Stereotypical 20th-century parents defined "success" as making it big -- one-upping your peers, having it all, getting into high-level career positions. Millenials, with the reality-check economy, are beginning to redefine "success" as getting the right skills, finding a stable full-time job (or the equivalent number of part-time jobs) and paying bills. You bought a house? BALLER status. New car? Again?? They must be overpaying you! I have deliberately excluded the silver-spoon products of entitlement culture as I trust that they are a vocal but ultimately small minority.
      SquareFour
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's not just "wealth", older folks tend to feel more comfortable with the warranty, and peace of mind, that comes with a new car purchase. Retires don't want to deal with fixer-uppers.
      Edsel
      • 1 Year Ago
      When you get to my age you'll be longing to buy a 5 ton, 22 foot, spongy suspended, left lane hogging, underpowered, vintage Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham too. I think it's wired into our DNA or something....or maybe because they look like hearses. Seriously, does anyone remember Cadillac's marketing of 10+ years ago that addressed the "last exit" retirement audience? I was shocked when I saw it because the message was clearly to buy a Cadillac because you'll die soon ("last exit").
      Brodz
      • 1 Year Ago
      Older shopper also have more money, by having less kids to look after.
        Chris
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Brodz
        ...which is why it always baffles me that I see almost as many 70 somethings driving mini vans as the 30 to 40 somethings one would normally expect to see driving them... You'd think a lot more of them would be driving the two seat sports cars that they couldn't have when the kids were still young, not neighborhood kid carpool vans.
          Brodz
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Chris
          Probably oldies that look after their grand kids, and like to load lots of crap like potted plants, home improvement item, garage sales crap, etc.
        michigan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Brodz
        I guess if you have one foot in the grave and lots of money, you might as well blow it on a new car. for the rest of us, new cars are a bad idea
          Brodz
          • 1 Year Ago
          @michigan
          It's old peoples duty to support the economy, buy new cars, and drive them gingerly till we buy them second hand.
      Eyes Wide Open
      • 1 Year Ago
      LOL at that picture, we know that's yomama, yonomo behind the wheel because carguy1701 can't drive a manual.
      superchan7
      • 1 Year Ago
      I was fortunate enough to be able to afford, and foolish enough to actually buy, a new car shortly after finishing school. I have since become more interested in finding late-model lightly used. New grads these days are having a tough time becoming financially stable (the skyrocketing price of the scam known as "higher education in the US" doesn't help), and their inability to buy new cars is not surprising. I say inability and not "disinterest" because, if you can afford it, why would you not want the peace of mind of a new car, from a brand that has solid depreciation/resale value after 7-10 years?
      Boogaloo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Okay I get the argument about marketing to the younger audience, but us old fogies still want the options that we want. I for one won't be buying my next crossover with a black interior - and that's all they seem to want to sell us these days!
        BG
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Boogaloo
        I would not buy a crossover or black interior in any car.
      petro7geo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Older people are buying cars, which are full of confusing technologies like MyFordTouch, Link, Cue, etc. Probably want them die ASAP in distraction caused accidents or just from heart attacks so younger buyers could get slightly used vehicles.
      Justin Brock
      • 1 Year Ago
      That's because Baby Boomers have basically stolen all the money from Gen X and the Millennials.
        throwback
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Justin Brock
        Gen xers have earned money that was stolen from them? If you are refering to the debt, well everyone has a hand in that.
        Chris
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Justin Brock
        Justin Brock/SquareFour, Please stop making our generation look like a bunch of crybabies, cynics, and hypocrites. With Gen Xers having been of voting age for a couple of decades now, and with many Milennials being old enough to vote as well, it's not fair to pin place all of the blame on the Baby Boomers. The current administration has continued the practices of the last one by continuing to spend what we do not have, and most voters of the Millennial Generation voted for it. At this rate, or kids will be saying the same thing about us in 30 years.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Chris
          [blocked]
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Justin Brock
        [blocked]
      Stix
      • 1 Year Ago
      Color me NOT surprised. Even with financing, young people are still wary about buying new. Monthly payments, depreciation, and insurance on new cars are not something that a young person with student loan debt and 2 part-time jobs can easily pay down. The average price of a new car today hovers around $30k or more, which also doesn't really help matters much. I don't see the used car market going away anytime soon.
        Rob
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Stix
        Even young people with jobs that can afford it are leery of taking on debt for something unnescessary (assuming you're looking at an upgrade/replacing a functioning vehicle). Those of us that graduated and tried to find jobs in the 2008-2011 period are in no rush to be paying anything more than rent/mortgage every month. I'd personally love a new Ram 1500 to replace my 6 year old Frontier, and could go pay cash for one today, but that's money that could sustain me for a year of unemployment (heaven forbid). Having been there, the decision is easy... my Frontier still runs fine!
        superchan7
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Stix
        I still can't grasp how the average new car is costing $30k. If you have to get a loan, you can get something much more affordable. I suppose outside of my San Francisco Bay Area money pit the more reasonable cost of living allows people to spend more on cars. Still, I can get a Lexus CT for about $30k. If that's the level of "average new car" in the US then I must be on the wrong planet.
      Richard
      • 1 Year Ago
      I didn't buy my first new car until I was 35...but then again I made sure I bought a house first and I live in NYC so that was quite a hurdle...I guess if I lived in Texas of FL or some other cheap place I would have been one of these 19yo kids driving a new Mustang....
      protovici
      • 1 Year Ago
      Can you say disposable income? This test is as much of a waste of time as the helmet law equals less injuries. Duh
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