Chart by Label Networks’: “What type of car would you prefer to buy?”

When GM CEO Rick Wagoner explained that his company used to hold by the philosophy of “build it and they will come” when it came to creating new cars, not only did this explanation demonstrate extreme arrogance, but also how out of touch they were with their consumers -least of all new car buyers. And obviously the same could be said for their agencies that went along with the practice. This top-down business strategy has long been over especially when considering the new generation of consumers. Even the fashion industry with their push towards masstige or designer-ready-to-wear for the masses approach with big-box discount retailer collaborations understands this wave of the future.

As we’ve been tracking every other year in a series of automotive preferences and lifestyle questions among youth culture across North America, Europe, and Japan, the percentages for those among 13-25-year-olds in North America who would purchase a Used car are increasing. This is something that most car manufacturers don’t want to hear. In Label Networks’ Fall Study 2008, 61.1% of 13-25-year-olds overall would purchase a Used car today compared with 38.9% preferring New. While often auto manufacturers are advertising and marketing for new car buyers, they miss the point of the popularity of Used cars. One reason for this preferences for Used other than the usually lower costs, is that many young people like to DIY or customize their cars their own way. For some, the after-car market cache is what it’s all about and in many cases, they may spend more on after-market accessories, customizations and other things than the initial price of the car itself. In addition, a growing number of young people believe that it’s better to recycle cars and go for a Used vehicle instead of contributing to the disposable trends of the automotive industry. In general, this means we have a far more savvy demographic when it comes to car purchasing patterns than most automotive industries give youth culture, or new car buyers, credit for.

The most interesting aspect when looking at our data is looking at the Used car preferences by age groups. Used cars are high across the board, but peaks among preferences among 15-17-year-olds at 65.2%, followed by 61.1% of 18-20-year-olds and 53.8% among 13-14-year-olds. What this indicates is that there’s a new generation coming in preferring Used cars.

When asked what “make of car would you prefer to purchase next, there are distinct differences especially by age groups. For example, by age Toyota is very high among 21-25-year-olds peaking at 10.8%, then drops to 5.9% of 18-20-year-olds. Top makes among 18-20-year-olds are BMW at 11.9%, Honda at 11.1%, Ford at 10.9%, Chevrolet at 10.6%, and Toyota at 5.9%. Among 21-25-year-olds top choices are Ford at 12.3%, Toyota at 10.8%, Chevrolet at 9.2%, BMW at 8.8%, Honda at 8.1%.

Overall, while the automotive industry continues to try and bail its way out of its current situation, it’s clear that they could have been far more successful, if like other industries, they simply listened to their consumers.

For more information on Label Network’s car stories including charts and graphs and the after-market car market industry, search key words on