30 January 2012

I’ve never really understood the carmakers’ obsession with younger buyers. In fact, I couldn’t tell you how many new car presentations I’ve sat through where I’ve been told ‘this new, cutting edge styling is going to attract younger customers’. Think Toyota Yaris, Honda Jazz, Peugeot 207, even Ford Fiesta – to name but a few.

I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise to those of you who actually sell cars for a living to learn that the average age of a retail new car buyer in the UK is 52. For some franchises, it’s actually considerably higher than that.

Fact is: most young people can’t afford new cars, unless they’re on some sort of company car scheme, and they’ve got other things to spend their money on. So it turns out the answer to attracting younger customers is nothing to do with styling or motorsport or sexy TV ads. It’s all about money or, to be more precise, insurance.

At first glance, Peugeot’s ‘just add fuel’ promotion appears to be just another three year finance and service package. But then you realise it includes three years’ comprehensive insurance (subject to terms and conditions, of course) and the reason for its success becomes more apparent.

This week the company gave me the figures: 16% of all Peugeot retail sales are now on JAF, 62% of those retail sales are conquest business and 50% of JAF customers are coming out of used cars. Here’s the killer facts: 66% of them indicate that ‘free’ insurance was a key factor in their decision and the average age of a JAF customer is 42.

So, carmakers, if you want younger buyers stop banging on about styling and offer them free insurance – simple.

Rupert Saunders

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