What Does Generation Z Want From Their Cars?
When they’re designing the next generation of vehicles, Ford looks to their team whose focus is analyzing trends and using those trends to reveal what direction the consumer base is going and, in turn, what direction the manufacturer must go.
We were first introduced to the power of Ford’s forecasting during the North American International Auto Show when Ford Futurist Sheryl Connelly spoke time and again about what research is telling the company- the vehicle is becoming a living space and a connected device, not just a mode of travel.
Who is Generation Z? Born just after millennials, many in the Gen Z generation are children of Gen Xers. There are roughly two billion of them in the world making them the largest single age cohort in the world. Gen Z represents 21 percent of the world’s total population and 25 percent of the U.S. population.
Gone are the stereotypes that many Gen Xers grew up with (Ford = Fix Or Repair Daily, Found On the Road Dead) and instead, Generation Z has seen a brand heavily evolved in the last decade. Of the 1,061 members of Generation Z in a MaritzCX study – the group defined as ages 21 and younger – Ford tops the list of vehicles most seriously considered, at 8.2 percent, ahead of Toyota with 7.2 percent and Chevrolet with 6.4 percent.
When it comes to vehicle purchasing, study participants listed fuel economy as their top purchase consideration. The second and third most noted reasons for buying a new vehicle among this group of shoppers include their previous vehicle getting too old and repairs to their older vehicle becoming too costly.
“Making decisions based on fuel economy and value explains why these buyers tend to shop brands like Ford, which builds vehicles that prioritize these attributes,” said Chris Travell, vice president for strategic consulting at Salt Lake City-based MaritzCX.
While much has been made in recent months about rising utility vehicle sales, Gen Z buyers in the MaritzCX study showed an overwhelming preference for shopping small and midsize cars. Four of the top five vehicle segments for Gen Z buyers are cars rather than utility vehicles or trucks.
Gen Z buyers opt for compact cars at 41.1 percent, such as Ford Focus; 14.7 percent shop midsize sedans, like Ford Fusion; and 11.6 percent shop subcompact cars, like Ford Fiesta.
“The youngest new vehicle buyers tend to have less money than older folks, so it’s no surprise they overwhelmingly shop cars rather than more expensive utilities or trucks,” said Travell. “Gen Z shoppers are driven largely by financial constraints, and car segment offerings tend to be most affordable.”
What’s most interesting in the MaritzCX study is how the Millennial Generation is split when it comes to purchasing. “Younger millennial buyers, ages 22 to 25 or so, tend to behave like their younger Gen Z counterparts, whereas older millennials, roughly 26 to 35 years old, act more like Generation X when it comes to vehicle shopping behaviors,” said Erich Merkle, Ford sales analyst.
Maybe it’s because younger Millennials don’t have families yet to consider for larger vehicle buying or maybe its because they no longer see larger vehicles as an indicator of wealth. Maybe. That’s why it’s important to study these things.