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Survey: Collegians matriculating as a major force in auto market

November 22, 2010
College students are projected to spend $14.8 billion on 1.5 million vehicles this year, or an average $9,860 on each unit, an annual study indicates. The study found that 72 percent of college students ages 18-30 own a vehicle or have access to one for personal use. The 360 Youth College Explorer Study appears on the Web site, Forty-nine percent of students questioned said they bought or leased vehicles by themselves, and one-quarter said they had a car purchased or leased by a family member for their use. In ranking key influencers in their vehicle-buying decision, more than four out of five collegians said overall quality, dependability and price were "very important." Qualities such as color (23 percent), style (41 percent) and impressiveness (11 percent) ranked lower. Study officials said students tended to stress functional attributes over brand or model as "very important" criteria when it comes to buying a vehicle. Almost half of the students surveyed said they researched their vehicle purchase on-line. Seniors indicated the most readiness to buy, at 19 percent. Freshman (11 percent), sophomores (9 percent) and juniors (12 percent) were all closely ranked. "College students have emerged as a powerful force in the car-purchasing market," said Derek White, Alloy executive vice president and general manager of Media & Marketing Business. "Importantly, they are smart, cautious buyers, and their loyalty to nameplates is in the process of being established." "Companies marketing to college students," White added, "including car manufacturers, but also on-line retailers, used-car dealers and aftermarket auto services, need to be sure they have adequate resources dedicated to this influential consumer group." The 360 Youth College Explorer Study, which polled 4,608 full- and parttime college students during the 2003 fall semester, indicates that college students bought 32 percent of the units sold over the past two years by used-car dealers, or 1 million vehicles total.