‘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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