Cell Phones Impress Teens More Than Cars

The best way to impress friends if you’re a 16- to 29-year-old is to own a new car.

At least, that was the way to do it 2000. Now the way for youth to impress their peers is with their cell phone.

CNW Marketing Research of Bandon, Ore., a company that specializes in why consumers buy the vehicles they do, found that in 2000, 35% of all 16- to 29-year-olds said a new car impressed their friends, but now 32% say a cell phone is much more impressive. The new car has fallen to only a 20% popularity rate.

If your cell phone is a new iPhone, your popularity rating skyrockets to 70% among youth.

The CNW survey means carmakers seeking the coveted youth market are now competing against non-transportation items for sales.

In its 2007 survey, CNW found cell phones the most popular possession among youth, followed by electronic games at 27%, iPods at 26%, footwear at 24% and computers at 23%, with cars at the 20% mark.

“For $600 to $700 — if you can find one — the iPhone will make the owner the envy of friends, relatives and co-workers,” CNW said.

Carmakers such as youth-oriented Scion can learn a lesson. The fees to support wireless services for an iPhone can eat up an amount equal to about half a monthly payment on a small car.

“In the highly sensitive, fashion-oriented youth market, the most bang for the envy buck is usually something that can be worn, keyboarded or heard,” said CNW general manager Art Spinella.