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Cardigan Cars

Cardigan Cars

Are car makers guilty of ageism? Let me explain. In a popular English seaside resort there are not one but two men’s clothing stores where the style barometer has apparently got stuck at 1959. Why is there still a market for beige slacks and grey three season jackets with nice patch pockets and a useful integral fold-away hood? Peering through the window you might find yourself being appraised by a wizened sales assistant with oily hair, a side parting, a dubious moustache and a skilled eye for spotting the ‘older’ clientele, so obviously someone still buys this stuff. It makes me wonder; at what point do people become ‘old’? Not in the sense of decaying bodies but as a concept. When should women first have a cauliflower haircut and buy a little white cardy whilst encouraging their husbands to buy a suitable new car?

Manufacturers are aware of the ‘older demographic’. It is understood that a large proportion of the car buying market is over 55 so it seems clear that certain cars are marketed in certain subtle ways. Take the Toyota Yaris. This is an excellent small car; versatile, roomy and reliable, yet it is seen – wrongly in these difficult times – and especially by the young, as an old fogey’s car. Ditto the Honda Jazz, a popular buy in the used car market as a ‘safe’ option. This car has traditionally been seen as the preserve of those in their fifties and sixties( not my words – don‘t shoot the messenger), so much so that the marketing for the Jazz Hybrid has definitely been targeted at a younger audience. It is as if ‘old people’ won’t understand the technology or reasoning behind it.

Older people have more money. They are more likely to buy a prestige car, but not with leery styling or vivid colours. Silver surfers buy silver cars, not because they necessarily like it but rather because they see it as a ‘safe’ colour come re-sale time. Did you know that the average age for a Ferrari buyer is over 50? The company have been looking at how older people get into and out of a low slung sports car – and without falling about laughing as well! Other manufacturers are making dashboard information bigger and easier to read. Oldies are considered to be a different breed.

Old folk sometimes don’t help themselves when it comes to age related differences. Take the 76 year old lady (no names – I’ll spare her blushes) who drove the wrong way around a roundabout causing mayhem. There ensued a 17 mile police pursuit in which speeds were as low as ten and never higher than 20mph. She resolutely refused to stop. In the end the cops did a ‘rolling roadblock’ as an officer ran alongside the vehicle and knocked on the window. You couldn’t make it up.

So are car makers ageist? Well, yes and no. They understand that people get old and, as with most brands, adjust their products or promotions accordingly BUT, the fault really lies with folks themselves. They are persuaded that they are old because society says they’re old. That’s the attitude that has got to change.

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bG9nZ2VyX0xvZ28uanBnIjtpOjI7czo3MzoiaHR0cDovL21vdG9yYmxvZ2dlci5jby51ay93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzMtTW90b3JfQmxvZ2dlcl9Mb2dvLnBuZyI7fTwvbGk+PGxpPjxzdHJvbmc+d29vX3ZpZGVvX2NhdGVnb3J5PC9zdHJvbmc+IC0gQXV0byBOZXdzPC9saT48L3VsPg==