Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Automobile and the Problem with Generation Y

Generation Y is one important market segment that researchers are focusing on with regards to automobile use and attitudes towards.  Of course, one problem is precisely defining what is Generation Y, or the so-called "Echo Boomers?"   Born sometime between the late 1970s or early 1980s and the mid-2000s, this group was hit particularly heard by the 2008/9 financial crisis and that fact certainly plays into the question of how they interface with the automobile.
Some 80 million Americans fit in the marketing demographic of individuals between the ages of 16 and 34.  Researchers have found they drive less, with a larger than historically normal percentage not possessing a license. In fact 26 % in 2010 do not have a license, an astonishing figure.
And yes, smartphones assist those young people in getting better train and bus connections.
But in fact, sampling where these folks live certainly will skew results and interpretation.  Beyond the coasts and large cities, Americans are path dependent on the car -- and thus in Dayton Ohio, every one of my current students has a car.  In New York, Philadelphia, LA, Chicago, the percentages would be far less.  But remember, America is a big country and the center of it in many important respects is not on the coasts, but in the Heartland.  And market researchers need to remember that when releasing information that can be sensationalized for the influential coastal newspapers and media.


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