By on January 12, 2009

Of course, that’s complete horseshit. You can no more reduce a “cool car” to a formula than you can pick a hit song by analyzing the notes. Certainly, if you’re looking for mainstream success, both car and song needs a “hook” or two and must work within a certain prescribed range (price, length). But it’s hard to take any survey on cool cars seriously when it’s conducted by people who push pencils for a living, based on a poll of “1,006 participants aged 17 to 28… randomly drawn from a panel of individuals who agreed to participate in online surveys.” Anyway, here goes nothing: “Deloitte’s survey discovered that the majority of Gen Y respondents felt a vehicle reflects a person’s style, status and values, and the factors named most often as among the top three reasons that a vehicle is cool were exterior styling, affordability and being environmentally friendly. Among survey respondents, 44 percent said exterior styling was the most important factor in selecting a vehicle, 40 percent said affordability and 35 percent said environmentally friendly. These statistics are important as they represent an opportunity for auto manufacturers and suppliers to be creative and turn their new business models into customized programs tailored to reach this diverse market.” See what I mean?

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

36 Comments on “For Gen Y Cool Cars = Exterior Style, Affordability, Green...”


  • avatar
    brianmack

    44% + 40% + 35% = 119%

    Yeah. I’d trust that survey.

  • avatar
    bleach

    Environmentally friendly, eh? I’m guessing that survey also found Gen Y considers abstinence from sex, drugs and alcohol to be cool too.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Strategic Consulting:

    http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b260/Kleindaddy/consulting-poster.jpg

  • avatar
    golf4me

    The “greenest” car you can buy is a USED one…

  • avatar

    fun to drive isn’t cool anymore

  • avatar
    AKM

    Well, what I’m pretty sure of is that:
    - cars matter less for Gen Yers than for previous gens
    - cellphones matter more
    - status matters just as much
    - horsepower takes a backseat to cool features
    - envt friendly, or rather, the perception of envt friendly

    Let’s face it, people are people, regardless of their generation, and what people want is to make their neighbors jealous, whether it is through having a more powerful car, a greener one, or a cooler cellphone….

  • avatar
    Vorenus

    So… performance isn’t included in their “cool” criteria?

    I’m getting old (30).

  • avatar
    brianmack

    @Vorenus

    Including performance as option would not have given the marketers the desired results.

  • avatar
    Casual Observer

    You aren’t going to sell very many new cars to kids aged 17 to 28.

    You’ll build cars for them, but actually sell very few of them to that market. They’ll end up being bought by the older generations looking for that fountain of youth (see Scion).

    I agree with AKM, that generation is more likely to be impressed by what the buttons do than with the car itself.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Nothing ever changes: the (original) VW beetle was cool in its day.

  • avatar
    AKM

    I agree with AKM, that generation is more likely to be impressed by what the buttons do than with the car itself.

    My 21-yr-old sister-in law currently drives my father-in-law G35. She has no clue whatsoever about handling or power, but raves about satellite radio, and about the “snow” button, saying it really helps protect the car, and makes it easier to drive in bad weather.

    I tried the button. All it does is numb down the car: more steering wheel travel to turn, brakes automatically applied softly, acceleration becomes non-existent…
    It’s effectively a “driving in the snow” for dummies who can’t do it right themselves. And she somehow thinks it creates a friggin forcefield around the car or something like that.

  • avatar
    ItsABrandNewCar

    As a member of Gen Y and owner of a Mustang, I can tell you that while style is a must have, Green is NOT that important.

    Then again, I might just be in the minority.

  • avatar
    EricTheOracle

    I want an Escalade, not that. Good luck selling them to the aging hippies.

  • avatar
    Casual Observer

    AKM, that’s funny. I had to explain to my sister the difference between 6-cyl and 6-speed for about 20 minutes. I still don’t think she got it.

    She ended up buying the blue one.

    Is that a generational thing or a female thing?

    As women stay single longer into their 30′s and are out buying cars on their own, I think we’ll see more and more cars built specifically for women.

    My apologies to B&B’s female population.

  • avatar
    creamy

    affordability is not cool. it may be necessary, but it is not cool.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Ah, Gen Y. So totally different from all previous generations…

    Trust me, F-150 and Mustangs will do just fine. It’s mind boggling to me that the marketing people are trying to go after the young people anyway; not on stuff like cars. Targeting youth might be great for cell phones and ipods, but not so much once you get out of the Christmas gift price bracket.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Did the CEO of Kia bet the CEO of Toyota that he could build an uglier car than the new Scion xB?

  • avatar
    TEW

    As an 18 year old I have never heard someone say that their dream car was an electric vehicle. Everyone wants a Z06 or other high end sports car and others want a large truck or SUV. The younger drivers just settle for the greener vehicles because they are usually the cheapest, the Aveo, Colbot and other compacts. Why do people listen to all of these surveys is the biggest question in my opinion. My best guess is that some middle aged man who does not even have a kid was in charge of this survey.

  • avatar
    AKM

    Trust me, F-150 and Mustangs will do just fine. It’s mind boggling to me that the marketing people are trying to go after the young people anyway; not on stuff like cars. Targeting youth might be great for cell phones and ipods, but not so much once you get out of the Christmas gift price bracket.

    Yes and no. I totally agree with you on a short-term basis, but grabbing the customer while he/she is young is a must. I mean, most of us remember our 1st cars with fondness, even if they were P.O.S., and that certainly helps future sales. Although, I admit, not as much as the ever-present “better than the neighbors” attitude, which is the real reason why so many people stretched themselves into the next category, such as entry-lux.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    Is that a generational thing or a female thing?

    Some of each I suspect. I was musing one afternoon that we’d owned every possible variation of engine placement/drive: Front engine w/ FWD, 4WD, RWD, and a Rear Engine RWD.

    My wife’s response: “The engine drives the wheels?”

    It was just something that she’d never thought about, and still doesn’t understand. For that matter, I always pump her gas for her too, so….

    As for the new generation’s opinions about cars, I have a couple of ancedotes there too. My 23 year old niece is fiercely resisting buying a car – any car. She just doesn’t care about wheels. The only things she came even close to considering was a Mini… or a Jeep. “Cool” is probably the only common element between those two vehicles.

    Finally, in Japan, car sales are way down partly because young people have stopped buying cars -
    http://www.autoblog.com/2008/12/30/youth-in-asia-japanese-sales-plunge-as-young-people-abandon-car/

    So maybe they’re just ahead of the curve there.

  • avatar
    brianmack

    @toxicroach

    For me affordability is cool. Especially if the car is safe (a relative term) and can fit the wife and kids. Oh, and I’d like it to have sliding doors so the kids stop wacking the other car in the garage.

    I’m 29 and own a 1997 Buick LeSabre and a 2004 Toyota Camry. All I need are the wrap-around sunglasses and the old man tranformation will be complete.

  • avatar
    arapaima

    I’m pretty sure all kids care about is if they can can whip it around their neighborhood at 70 mph. At least all of my classmates did.

    But this pretty much has the ideals of the generation spot on. They want their car to look cool and be cheap to run (Technically good mileage is “green”) and buy. Honestly they can find a way to make any car exciting (see above).

    As for the statistics of this, I imagine they were allowed to select more than one reason for a car being “cool”.

  • avatar
    Aeroelastic

    What an 17-28 year old wants is different than what he or she can afford, or what his or her parents will buy.

    Personally, I’m 28. I’ve always had handling/ drivability as my major selling point on a car. After that, acceleration, braking, and good visibility. I consider those to be important safety features. I’d rather avoid an accident than just survive one.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    I’m with bleach

  • avatar
    autonut

    Well we learned that 60% of respondents age 19 to 28 will purchase the car they can’t afford and shouldn’t drive, just like their parents did.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    I’m just not seeing the market to hip little cars marketed towards the Lil’ Sex in the City set being a big market, and it would probably turn more people off than on. What adult, or young person hoping to get treated like an adult, is going to buy a car that is marketed towards hipsters.

  • avatar
    NetGenHoon

    Does anyone else 18-27 hate being called Gen YD, just because Y comes after X? I thing NetGen better describes our era, kinda like baby-boomers describes our grandparents.

    That said, it explains what would be cool in a car. Causal Observer and AKM nailed it. Buttons that do cool stuff, like park the car.

    Overall, driving is dead to this generation, only to live on in the next generation of enthusiasts. And we’re all too poor to buy what we want new anyways….

  • avatar
    fincar1

    My daughter was raised on an 84 RX7 and an 89 Civic hatchback with mags, tinted windows, and a cd player. After a 95 Accord and a 97 Camry she got what she really wanted: a bright red 05 F-150 supercab 4×4 with all the bells and whistles right down to leather seats. Then she went through a period of no money and had to trade down to a CRV; now she’s got another F-150 just like the first one except an 04, cloth seats, and a billet grille. But then, she’s 30 now….

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Geeze, is the ageism ever thick in this conversation.

    Demographics is a tricky thing. Enthusiasts want one thing, the young and silver-spoon-in-mouth idle rich another, the young and recently employed a third, and the young and just bought a house/had a kid a fourth. And then there’s differences by region, sex, political leaning, etc, etc. It isn’t quite as cookie-cutter as Toilet, Douche and Tomato make it out to be.

    Gen Y isn’t hugely different from it’s predecessors (it isn’t likely to be that different from it’s successors, either). Where X, Y and such differ from the Boomers and their predecessors is twofold:

    One is that younger buyers are usually a little less presupposed, and a little more likely to be consider a different product, so you have an opening there.

    Two—and this is the hard one—they have an inbuilt resistance to oblique, ham-fisted marketing: it’s much, much harder to get a marketing toehold because these generations have been so oversaturated that you really do need to be tricky to get to them.

    Infomercials do not work. Product placement does not work. Slick TV/Radio/Print campaigns do not work. Viral campaigns are slightly effective, but not so much as the Swinging Dicks at the companies that develop them think. The work you need to do to get traction is brutal, and it’s often more luck than anything else. Obliquely marketing to GenX/Y is a really good way to trigger a cynicism response, too—god help you if you market on green and aren’t; it’s a good way to end up in branding Hell.

    Of course, good product helps a lot. There’s no magic formula: do the groundwork, pound the focus groups, test your markets, make the product as good as you can—preferably better than your competitors—and make sure the supporting campaign makes sense.

    Failing to figure out who will actually buy your product is a really good way to kill your whole brand. GM did this with the Aztek: they built something that there was patently no market for because their prepatory work was terrible.

    The Kia Soul above is a good point. Yes, it has youth market written all over it, but if it succeeds, it will succeed not because of oblique marketing, but because it’s cheap (unlike the Honda Element), practical, capable and reliable. If it’s a cheap, unreliable piece of crap, or is lacking in useful features, or is unattainable because Kia dealers play hardball, then all the Hipness in the world won’t save it.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Does anyone else 18-27 hate being called Gen YD, just because Y comes after X? I thing NetGen better describes our era, kinda like baby-boomers describes our grandparents.

    Generations are hard to define. “Baby Boomer” really defines people who were members of large, post-war families, not a specific range of dates. This is why someone who immigrated with their parents from postwar Europe is probably not a boomer, but the child of a family of four or more from middle America is.

    There’s also a certain amount of judgemental attitude. You get this feel from how Boomers regard Gen Y: superficial, spoiled, achievement driven. Of course, these are the children of the Boomers, and it’s the Boomers who are trying to define them, and the paternalism is pretty much a given. Giving them a label, especially a trivialising one, is part of this (Generation Nintendo, iGeneration, Boom Echo, Boomlets).

    Of course, I’m at the tail end of Generation X. Bitterness, cynicism and stylish despair are more or less our defining aspect.

  • avatar
    63CorvairSpyder

    My 23 year old recent college grad son across the room from me votes, performance #1, the cars; BMW and Audi.

    He added, “just because I can’t afford them doesn’t mean they aren’t cool”. Affordability shouldn’t come into the equation when defining “coolness”.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    We young people aren’t any more homogenous than anyone else, so why does everyone keep trying to figure out what we’re like? We’ve got artsy people, green people, drag racing people, playful people, aggressive people, sensible people…

    Sure, we’re more likely to be environmentalists or interested in lots of buttons. But look at these results – “more likely” translates to 35% putting green as their priority. That’s still only a third; not wanting a Prius does not make you unusual among young people, no matter how unusual you’d like to be. (Okay, I suppose that’s an eternal characteristic of the younger generation, wanting to stand out and be different – old people may like the xB too but it still gets more young buyers than most cars.)

  • avatar
    DearS

    I’m 24 and have a bunch of friends guys and girls. All want a different car. They all think BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Audi etc etc. and Performance cars are cool. Still they are all poor. In there current financial state their tastes can still be seen. One drives sporty and reliable, Accord coupe 90, one a Crown Vic, One a Cutlass Supreme 96, another wants a 2004 Maxima, Another a GMC SUV 97, Another a Camry, Another anything that is new and cool. Accord coupe, Maxima, late model used luxury car etc. etc. Another a fast, luxury, and reliable import. an Acura, really. Another the same thing but more sporty. I want a comfy, reliable, affordable, fun car. My friends also now a bit about cars, or ask atleast. They now HP, but they focus less on raw performance numbers, they drive any and all cars/minivas/trucks/land yacht faster than I’d try sometimes. I Went from Accord 92, to Integra, to 240sx To BMW E30 now looking at a used older Merdeces or BMW. Still like sport, but more luxury. I’m the only one that really goes for best of the best. They look for what is best for them, but use a lot of different criteria, a lot of it word of mouth or the butt dyno and/or handling experience without crashing.

  • avatar
    f8

    “Yeah man! We get young people! Scion nation! Wooo!” *sells a bunch of Scions to 50-year-olds*

  • avatar
    cdotson

    carlisimo :
    January 12th, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    We young people aren’t any more homogenous than anyone else, so why does everyone keep trying to figure out what we’re like? We’ve got artsy people, green people, drag racing people, playful people, aggressive people, sensible people…

    I disagree. Young people entering the age where some may be purchasing (or directing the purchase of) a new vehicle are the most homogenous market any manufacturer is likely to encounter. They’re going to be at or around high school graduation age; they’ve spend the majority of their life living in the same town or area, going to school with largely the same friends and sharing the majority of their life experiences centered around their education. The majority will have gone to public school where they’ve been fed a predetermined level of information to pass tests and have been packed in too tightly to have picked up the ability to effectively think independently. The necessity of orderly discipline without the capability of genuine punishment has brought on an atmosphere where questioning authority has been actively discouraged.

    Almost all young people at this stage will effectively seek to achieve the same thing with their automotive purchase: peer acceptance. They will all do this differently using different methods but that is what they are buying. They don’t want a car for themselves; they want it for what others think of it. Affordability/economy and reliability will narrow down the pool but those are just realistic enablers of the transaction.

    Having spent most of my short career (I too cap the tail on Gen X at just about to turn 30) in product design/engineering I can say the best marketing types I’ve worked with don’t “do” marketing but product management. The best I’ve worked with all have the attitude that people don’t know what they want and if you give them exactly what they ask for you’re guaranteed to screw it up. A customer is a fickle bitch and you have to give them what they will buy, not what they “want.” People are stupid and really don’t know what they want. There, I guess I really am a Gen-X’er.

    I don’t get the opposition to “Gen-Y” but I guess that opposition is somewhat inherent in the generalized personality traits of someone in the age group. I had a buddy in middle/high school whose garage band was “Generation Why?” which is itself endemic of the sterotype.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    We young people aren’t any more homogenous than anyone else, so why does everyone keep trying to figure out what we’re like?

    Three reasons:
    * The wild ride that was Boomer consumerism is going to grind a screaming halt really soon. When the Boomers go, their comparatively poorer sucessors are going to be a much harder sell.
    * Gen X and especially Gen Y much harder to market to. Have a look at advertising from the 1950s and 60s: do you think for an instant that said pablum is going to work on a cynicism-steeped GenX’er, or a Gen Y who has been marketed to death at?
    * X and Y are incredibly fickle. It’s hard to woo them and not nearly as easy to keep them.

    Marketers face an uphill battle, and press-releases like this are a sign of both desperation, and the self-delusion that they’re still in control.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States