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(NY Auto Show) Thoughts On Capturing Young Car Buyers

With all of Gen Y becoming car buying age this year, automakers are keen to better communications and offer unique vehicles to this large age group.

Dave Pinter
Dave Pinter on March 30, 2010. @DavePinter

One area automakers are keen on improving is communicating and appealing to young buyers. There is realization that Gen X and Gen Y’ers are moving into their prime earning years. The question of what steps automakers were taking to appeal to younger buyers was posed to a manufacturers panel this morning at the NY Automotive Forum.

Mark Barnes, COO of Volkswagen Group of America noted that VW already had the perception of being a ‘youth’ brand. He said their recent ‘Punch Dub’ campaign has been built towards attracting younger customers and new families. He also noted the company has been experimenting with alternative media for vehicle releases. The latest GTI was introduced through an iPhone application.

Jim Lentz, President and COO of Toyota USA pointed out differences in approach with the companies’ brands. Toyota has relied on traditional media to promote models like the Corolla S, a strong seller to younger buyers. Scion represents the complete opposite and takes more risks. The brand has a history of event-based marketing and non-traditional advertising.

John Mendel, Executive Vice President – Automotive Sales for American Honda described the strategy as varying by vehicle line. Mendel commented on Honda’s experience with social media saying there are perils. Keeping control of a message can be difficult when it is built around a social media campaign.

Jim O’Donnell, President of BMW North America said the introduction of the Series 1 was aimed at drawing younger buyers to BMW. He said that new models are on the horizon including a lower cost, fuel-efficient front wheel drive model as another entry point to BMW ownership.

Thinking...