The importance of mom’s ride

Forget local brand loyalty for students, it's their parents' wheels that can influence purchase decisions.

Think back to when you were buying your first car. How much money were you willing to spend? What was important to you – reliability, gas mileage, the colour, the “cool” factor?

Today’s millennials are price-conscious, aren’t loyal to local brands and the car their parents drove might affect their purchase, according to a new study from Yconic, which surveyed about 1,300 Canadians aged 16 to 29, most of whom were current students.

For Rob Henderson, Yconic president and CEO, the milestone of car ownership still seems to exist, adding he didn’t anticipate  students to be so keen to take the plunge. Millennials are buying cars. And if they don’t own one, they want to.

When asked what kind of vehicle they planned to buy or lease, a little more than half of respondents said they would consider a used car, with only 15% saying they would consider a new ride and nearly two in five replying they did not know. When it comes to their budget, about 50% expect to fork over a maximum of $10,000, with $4,000 to $6,000 coming in as the most popular price range at 15%.

When considering buying a vehicle, price topped the list as the most important factor for respondents, at 37%, followed by dependability/reliability for two in five and gas mileage/fuel efficiency at 18%. Neither warranty, nor dealership service quality and support were selected as top factors.

When it comes to funding their new ride, most said personal savings would cover the tab (63%), with one in four saying loan/line of credit and another one in four pointing to help from family/guardians.

Additionally, discount offers and incentives were important to young people, as a price incentive on a new car would sway some from buying used, according to the study. When asked whether they would consider a new ride with a 10% discount instead of a used car,  in total, almost one-third said they somewhat agreed with the statement, 27% were neutral and 19% somewhat disagreed.

And with factors such as fuel cost and insurance found to be key barriers to ownership, Henderson says marketers can find ways to diminish these challenges.

“You can’t change the cost of gas but maybe you can pay for their first $500 of gas instead or we’ll pay for your first three months of insurance,” he says.

Henderson says he also expected students to be more loyal to North American car manufacturers, considering the amount of marketing the big three undertake.

However, the top brands respondents would most consider buying or leasing are Honda (16%), followed by Toyota (14%) and Volkswagen and Ford, at 7% each. The stats somewhat correspond to the brand of vehicle students currently drive or own, with Toyota and Honda tied for top spot at 18%, Ford at 14% and Chevrolet at 13%. Volkswagen ranked further down the list with 5%.

Henderson says Honda and Toyota likely topped the list due their positioning around quality for a lower price.

Additionally, the vehicle students’ parents drove was found to have the potential to influence the decisions of some. A little more than one in three said they somewhat agreed that the vehicle their parents drove affected their choice, with 19% saying they were neutral, 18% strongly agreeing and 12% somewhat disagreeing.

When it comes to vehicle type, 30% consider cruising away in a compact, with 11% saying intermediate and 9% compact sport utility. Those who were unsure weighed in at 15%, though everyone nixed large vans and luxury large and intermediate sport utility vehicles, which each ranked at 0%.

Just more than half of millennials rely on public transit to travel to school and work, while 34% walk and one-quarter share rides or car pool. Just less than one quarter say they drive  their personal vehicle, with 22% leaning on their family members to use their car. Only 2% use a car-sharing service, something Henderson says he expected to be more popular.

When asked whether it is was important to have a car during the school year, responses were fairly mixed, with 28% said they strongly agree, 24% somewhat agree, 20% were neutral, 15% somewhat disagree and 12% strongly disagree. A higher proportion of respondents from Alberta, the Prairies and rural environments felt it was important, with the least amount of students from Ontario and in urban areas saying they strongly agreed that it was important for them to have a vehicle.

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