Insights Article

What can automotive market research tell us about age demographics?
6th June 2023

In today’s dynamic world, the demand for cars is increasingly susceptible to changing consumer needs because of people’s diverse and ever-changing lifestyles. Our latest research explores emerging trends in the consumer car buying market, uncovering potential distinctions across various age groups in the automotive industry.

Owning a car is not only a significant investment due to the initial purchase cost, but it’s also a serious ongoing commitment when considering maintenance costs such as insurance, taxes, repairs and fuel. It’s no surprise then, that 23% of 18-39 year old respondents say they are leasing a vehicle or renting on a need-to basis. As age increases, so does car ownership, with an impressive 84% of 40-65 year old respondents owning their cars compared to 68% in the younger 18-39 age group.

A remarkable 62% of our driving respondents expressed their intention to either upgrade their existing vehicle or purchase an additional one within the next five years. Motivations for changing vehicles differ slightly based on life stage. Individuals aged 40-65 are more likely to be seeking out an upgrade on their existing cars, whereas consumers aged 18-39 are driven by the demands of new jobs or the perception that their current vehicles are too costly to maintain.

Given the prevailing cost-of-living crisis and its impact on discretionary spending, you would expect consumers to be reducing the amount they spend on cars. However, our research found that just 19% of consumers (rising to 27% of 50-65 year olds) said they would be using the car less to cut costs. 20% of respondents aged 18-29 even said they were not prepared to reduce their spending on cars at all. Undoubtedly, this reflects the essential role vehicles play in daily life, be it for work, family responsibilities, or the lack of viable transportation alternatives.

When asking our respondents what they considered to be the most important factors when purchasing a new car, unsurprisingly, price emerged as the most important factor, closely followed by running costs and reliability. Brand loyalty also held significant weight for a third of respondents, particularly among those aged 40 and above. This loyalty can be attributed to their extensive experience with cars, which has meant they’ve developed a sense of loyalty and trust with manufacturers who have consistently delivered exceptional service in the past.

Car size also emerged as a pivotal factor for consumers, with 38% stating its importance when contemplating a new purchase. Intriguingly, 14% of respondents indicated that their primary motivation for changing cars was either to upgrade to a larger vehicle or downsize to a smaller one, with households with children tended to learn towards larger cars. Household with young children are not only more likely to use a car, but they are also slightly more inclined to use leased vehicles, with 17% opting for this option as opposed to outright ownership.

Automotive consumers encompass a vast array of variables, including those who prefer new or used cars, individuals who rely on cars for work, families or hobbies, frequent long-distance travellers and occasional drivers. Moreover, demographic and socioeconomic factors further diversify the market. While you may already have a broad understanding of your target audience, delving deeper into their attitudes, beliefs, motivations and barriers will provide invaluable insights into consumer behaviour. Armed with this knowledge, you can optimise resource allocation and effectively reach those most likely to consider your business.

Unlock the potential of the future consumer car buying market and gain a comprehensive understanding of your target audience’s preferences, aspirations and needs by partnering with Clusters. We can help you to identify and embrace these emerging trends to drive your marketing strategies and connect with your audience to help achieve your business objectives. Get in touch today for more information.

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