Boomers Want To Hear About The 'America' In American-Made Cars

You know that Boomers love their country, but did you know that they shop that way, too?

In two recent surveys, Boomers told the auto industry that they are increasingly likely to buy American-made cars. Unlike younger consumers, they are more likely to appreciate the quality improvement in American-made cars and they are more willing to invest their own money in American jobs and industry. 

Automakers, take note: like Presidential candidates, you should connect with these important consumers by reminding them of how “American” you are yourself. 

“American” Means “Better than Ever”

Most consumers believe that American-made cars are better than they were in the past, but it turns out that the older you are, the more you believe it. In a recent Experian/Simmons National Consumer Study, almost 55% of Boomers said that American auto manufacturers are producing much better cars than they did 10 years ago. Only 36% of Millennials said the same thing. This divergence is also reflected in the appeal of foreign-made cars. While 17% of Millennials said that “owning a foreign car is much more prestigious than owning an American car,” only 11% of Boomers said the same thing.



In fact, the only reason most Boomers would buy a foreign car is based on the perception that they are better. In our recent survey among women 45+, almost every single respondent who would not consider buying an American-made car named quality or reliability (or both) as the reason. 

Boomers Want to Invest in American-Made

In that same survey, 91% of respondents told us that they are open to buying an American-made car. When we asked them why, their patriotism rang loud and true:

  • They want to use their dollars to keep Americans at work.Over and over in their open-ended responses, women told us that they want to buy American-made because it “keeps America working,” because it “keeps jobs in America,” and because “I want more jobs to come back to America.” 
  • “Buying local” applies to cars. These Boomer women repeatedly connect their openness to buying American-made cars with their desire to support their “local” economies: “I like to have things made as locally as possible.” In that sense, even large-scale purchases like cars fall into the same bucket as buying local food. Maybe car dealers should host farmers markets and craft fairs on their lots!

I have a theory that the Great Recession, combined with the declines in real wages for hard-working Americans, made American consumers appreciate how their own dollars make a difference — in keeping their friends and relatives employed, in supporting their communities, and even in raising the tax base in a slow-growing economy. What’s interesting about this research is that older consumers — people who have lived through more economic cycles than their younger peers together with a lifetime of global outsourcing — appreciate the impact of their own dollars more than anyone.

What Does this Mean for Auto Makers?

As quality has improved, and with it, the recognition that many “foreign” cars are actually made on American soil, the most important features that auto marketers should market to Boomers are the quality of their cars and the degree to which they are keeping Americans at work.

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