Car Buying Trends for Gen X & Baby Boomers

older man and daughter look at computer screen

As the auto industry continues to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 shutdowns in 2020, manufacturers and car dealers are relying more on industry trends and insights to develop their business strategies. Since Generation X and Baby Boomers make up the majority of consumers purchasing a new vehicle, alongside Millennials, it’s beneficial for car dealerships to pay attention to each generation’s car shopping and purchase patterns.

Car Buying Trends

Experian’s 2020 Market Trends Review found a decrease in the overall percentage of Baby Boomer and Gen X car buyers, while the overall percentage of Millennial and Gen Z car buyers increased. However, the report also notes that Baby Boomers, Millennials and Gen Xers still make up the majority of new car sales.

Gen X Car Shopping Patterns

Comprising 31 percent of the total US income, Gen X is an age group of decision makers. When making purchasing decisions, they prefer honest and clear product and marketing messages that outline an obvious path-to-purchase.

Contrary to Millennials and Gen Z consumers who conduct research on their phones while in the store, a recent study found that Gen X car buyers are more likely to conduct online research at home. Although they are big social media users, the study found Gen Xers are more influenced by email marketing campaigns – especially ones that offer discounts. And when it comes to brand loyalty, quality customer service is most important.

Baby Boomer Car Shopping Patterns

A recent report showed that Baby Boomer shopping habits differ from other generations. Less than a third find shopping relaxing and they’re also considered to be a more price conscious and fiscally conservative generation. Additionally, Boomers are considered to be very confident in their purchases, as only 12 percent rely on referrals from family and friends to help them make a purchase decision.

Car Dealer Takeaways

  • Email is shown to be an effective form of communication for reaching Gen Xers, as they are more likely to respond positively to email campaigns and promotions.

  • Quality customer service is always a must, especially since both Boomers and Gen Xers are big on shopping experiences and brand loyalty.

  • When dealing with older generations of car buyers, it’s important to not come on too strong, as most tend to be more price conscious and confident about their purchase decisions.

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