Cars' Cool Factor Depends on Younger Generation

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Kids don't have the money to buy whatever new car they want, but they do have influence in convincing older buyers what to get.

"The complaint among teens for years was that they wouldn't buy their father's Oldsmobile," said Rob Callender, spokesman for TRU, a Northbrook, Ill.-based subsidiary of Research International USA that specializes in the buying behavior and trends of teens and 20-somethings. “By the time Olds turned around its lineup with vehicles for younger buyers, it was too late. It went out of business.”

Callender said the reason Toyota created the Scion division and its novel-looking machines was to avoid the day when "Not my father's Camry" would become the cry of youth turned off by driving the same vehicle Dad puttered around in.

"Youth doesn't have the bulk of the cash consumers spend, but they set the buying tone," Callender said. "Youth has an enthusiasm about cars that rubs off on others and influences what they buy. If youth likes a car, the old will, too, but if old like the car, youth might not. Chances are greater that a 35-year-old will buy a car that a teen or 20-something likes than he would a car that a 60-year-old likes."

Society may dictate that adults set the example for kids to follow, but when it comes to the vehicles they buy, kids set the example for adults, Callender said, which is why automakers continue to covet the youth market.

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