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Baby Boomers: The Dark Horse of the Auto and Tech Markets

Where's the rule that older folks won't like cool, tricked out cars?

Becky Graebner


August 15, 2013 - 1:00 pm
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An article at the Wall Street Journal yesterday reported that baby boomers are snapping up cars that are marketed towards younger buyers. To some, this is weird and unexpected, similar to that odd conundrum when moms and daughters fall in love with the same pair of tight, hip-hugging jeans — thankfully cars are a little more forgiving. But what’s the deal? Why/how could something marketed towards 20-somethings attract 60-somethings?

Let’s start with the economy.

With the economy in a rough place, the automotive industry has been cautious. Auto makers have been targeting the younger generations with cool, sporty cars in hopes of securing their brand loyalty: you buy a Corolla at age 20, and, hopefully, you’ll love it and buy Toyota for the rest of your life. That’s the theory anyway.  Companies hope to lure first-time buyers with Bluetooth, Pandora, navigation systems, and touchscreen everything. The real problem with this whole theory is that the younger generation is poor. Nice to meet you Mr. Recession and Mrs. Debt!

This is where the baby boomers come in…

The baby boomers are still pretty cool. These men and women of the mid-20th century are looking for something other than the “senior citizen mobile.” They are drawn to the smaller, sportier sedans and hatchbacks on the market — think the Scion line up, the Mini Cooper, Fiat 500, and the Kia Soul… the cars meant for their grandkids.

I’m not surprised that the baby boomers are buying up these little cars; nobody should be denied a fun, cool car due to age.  Nobody puts Baby in a corner!  I think the auto makers might be overlooking two things when it comes to surviving in this tough economy…

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I've owned everything from a '59 Buick to '55-'57 Chevies in varying states of repair and modification through Fiat 850s, Toyota Corollas and LandCruisers, a Porsche 911, through various Chryslers to the 300M replaced by my current M-B ML. There's one reason a lot of 'Boomers aren't going to buy the tricky little hot rod; getting in and out of the damned low-slung thing!

I toy with some hot little low-slung thing and might consider it as a toy; it's really the same math as whether you can afford a mistress. Can you keep the wife and the mistress if not happy at least contented? I like that Abarth/FIAT commercial where the scorpion takes off with the hottie's bikini top, but I'm no more likely to be scrunching my aging bones in that Abarth than I am to be untying the hottie's bikini top; nice to think about though.
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