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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