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Generation Z women want their trucks muddy, dirty, ready for fun: SEMA

November 16, 2018
Young men are drawn to exotic sports cars such as Ferraris and Lamborghinis, but young women prefer trucks and SUVs designed for adventure. They like Jeeps and Land Rovers.
That’s according to a new study from the Specialty Equipment Market Association, the largest U.S. trade organization for automotive accessories and gear.
Researchers found that men pine for fast engines and bright colors, while women want trucks and SUVs that help them pursue hobbies and explore the outdoors.
The study, the SEMA Young Accessorizers Report, interviewed more than 2,000 participants ages 16-24. The report came as the group this month hosted its annual SEMA Show, focusing on auto accessories and trends, in Las Vegas.
It found that both men and women customize trucks and SUVs, but "women are especially drawn to them because of their versatility for outdoor activities."
While young men are motivated by the idea of winning races, showing off their cars and "getting the girl," young women envision dream vehicles that allow them to take vacations, see the outdoors and haul equipment.
"There’s a general perception about guys and trucks," said Gavin Knapp, head of market research at SEMA. "But men were motivated by the process of modifying a vehicle, where women were more motivated by the outcome, having something really cool and usable at the end."
Adventure vehicles of all kinds are growing in popularity. Through the first nine months of 2018, sales of pickup trucks increased by 4.4 percent compared with the same period last year, according to data gathered by Light trucks, a category that includes pickups, SUVs and crossovers, account for more than two-thirds of all U.S. auto sales.
The rise of light trucks has a ripple effect on the aftermarket industry. Owners of these types of vehicles are more likely to customize them than are owners of smaller cars, according to an earlier SEMA study.
The practice of taking four-wheel-drive vehicles adventuring for long periods of time, known as overlanding, has experienced rapid growth in recent years.
Young people also are finding a variety of ways to enjoy off-roading. Arielle Shipe, a 27-year-old yoga instructor and health blogger in Aspen, Colorado, found that her customized 2015 Ford Transit Connect van allows her to visit national parks without breaking the bank.
"It made a lot of sense to get a smaller van with better gas mileage," Shipe said. "If we wake up and want to go somewhere, we can close the doors and go."
Shipe uses the van to support her passions for hiking, biking, rock climbing and paddleboarding. She said the next modification she hopes to add is a 2-inch suspension lift for off-road driving.
That aligns with the SEMA findings. The study indicated that women view modifications as an opportunity to make their vehicles more capable and rugged. They dream about adding accessories such as bike racks, larger tires and armored bumpers.
And the market for women customizers could continue to grow. Many women are taking on modification projects despite less technical know-how.
"There’s an opportunity for companies," Knapp said, "to hit that other half of the market that’s maybe been left behind."