‘Youth’ Cars? Wait Till You See Who’s Buying Them!

Wall Street Journal

A few years ago, smaller cars like the Toyota Scion and Kia Soul were intended to attract younger buyers who wanted something more ‘hip’ and less costly, but market appeal has now changed.

Keep reading to find out who are the prime buyers of such trendy models.

When Toyota Motor Corp. rolled out its Scion brand nearly 10 years ago, its goal was to attract a certain buyer it felt wasn’t being addressed by its staid Camry and Corollas—namely the hip, tech-savvy and young.

Kia Motors used dancing hamsters to attract urban hipsters to its Soul compact.

Today, however, the brand’s line of funky-looking small cars is attracting buyers like Leslie Olsen, a 65-year-old retired university director from Golden, Colo., who recently leased a burgundy 2012 Scion xB.

Appealing to the young has auto makers designing and marketing to the “millennial generation”—that group of consumers in their 20s and 30s whose numbers could rival the postwar baby boom that has dominated the auto market for decades.

But senior citizens are making Swiss cheese of those efforts. Several years ago, for instance, Kia targeted youthful buyers with its Soul using commercials starring break-dancing hamsters. The Soul, which offers a sound system with light-ringed speakers that pulse to the beat of the music, is now one of the top 10 cars bought by baby boomers, according to Strategic Vision, a San Diego, Calif., research firm.

In recent years, auto makers have developed a bevy of pint-size models like the Chevy Sonic, Fiat 500, Ford Fiesta and Kia Soul, and promoted them using social-media, music festival sponsorships, and in some cases, daredevil stunts. To hype the new Chevy Sonic, General Motors Co. filmed the subcompact parachuting out of a plane for an online campaign aimed squarely at 18-to-30-year-olds.

But the largest customers for these cars, about 42% of buyers this year through May, are closer to retirement age, according to registration data compiled by car-shopping website Edmunds.com. The proportion is up from just 29% five years ago.





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