Automakers, take note. When it comes to cars, older consumers are just as concerned with keeping up appearances as their younger counterparts. And they're looking to go green.
Older consumers look for a quality ride that will give them pride and prestige when they are car shopping, a new Baylor University consumer study shows. Environmentally-friendly or "green" hybrid cars allow older drivers to save money on gas while also filling them with a sense of pride for helping the environment -- a combination that drives customer loyalty.
Researchers questioned 314 consumers age 60 and older who had bought hybrid cars. Their responses show that image is key, in addition to quality and price.
"The findings suggest that elderly consumers are concerned about how they appear to others when driving a hybrid car," the researchers said in a release. "They believe that driving a hybrid car builds a positive self-image of the people who drive them."
In addition to being able and willing to pay more, post 50s are more likely to be environmentally friendly than younger people. A survey by retirement community developer Del Webb found 87 percent of older Americans have considered investing in green technology and 54 percent are interested in buying hybrid cars.
Sales of hybrid cars have risen in recent years, rising by around 73 percent from 2011 to 2012 to an estimated 440,000 units, according to market research firm Mintel.
"This knowledge can help as a marketing tool," said Jay Yoo, assistant professor of family and consumer sciences at Baylor University, in a release. "Hybrid cars have increased in visibility because of their environmental consciousness. So people may be willing to pay an extra $5,000 or so in order to think, 'I'm great, and this is good for the environment'."
The good news for automakers is that post 50s control a significant portion of disposable income in the economy and that the size of the older consumer group is still growing.
Would you consider switching to a hybrid car?
Earlier on HuffPost50:
1. Boomers Act Locally And Live Globally
It may sound like something on the back of a yuppie's bumper sticker, Achenbaum joked, but boomers have moved beyond self-absorption to understand the duality of living in today's increasingly global world. "That tension between realizing that I'm part of this large world that is very fragile and on the other hand feeling very fine-tuned to [everyday life] is a gift that the boomers have shared among themselves," he said.
2. Boomers Altered The Three Boxes of Life
The rise of adult education classes and community college courses, along with increased educational opportunities for women, changed what is referred to in the paper as "the three boxes of life": employment, work, and retirement. "Boomers were not acting in lockstep in going through life as our parents were and as we were programmed to be in adolescence," Achenbaum said.
3. Boomers Widened The Range Of Inclusivity
Many boomers cut their teeth on the social change movements spearheaded in the '60s and '70s, ushering in new eras of inclusiveness, diversity and understanding. "While boomers have not succeeded fully in eliminating racism or sexism or ageism or homophobia, we have made more of an effort than previous generations did. I don't see how any subsequent generation [could reverse those efforts]." Achenbaum said.
4. Spiritual Quests For Meaning Changed Many Boomers' World Views
Boomers were the first generation to separate religion -- which had been seen as a public, performative act central to one's identity -- from spirituality, a more private experience, Achenbaum said. They were also the first to travel for enlightenment, folding their experiences abroad into their existence. "There have been spiritual traditions ever since people were in caves, but our cohort were the ones that went to the East and said 'I could be Jewish and Buddhist at the same time,'" he said.
5. Boomers Advanced Healthfulness
Despite a number of incurable diseases and legislative roadblocks, medical advances, lifestyle changes and federal programs have helped baby boomers live longer and healthier lives, according to the paper. The value of "wellness" will be left in boomers' wake, potentially altering the way we view "the golden years." "My hope is that as we grow older, people will see how different we look and act [and] stereotypes of older people being obsolete, stupid and [prone to] Alzheimer's will begin to fall apart," Achenbaum said.