Whereas the average customer age grew by three years to 51 across the automotive industry, that of Buick fell from 62 to 59 according to research by R.L. Polk & Co. The accomplishment is noteworthy because Buick is the only automotive brand to achieve a decrease in the average age of its customers.
Thanks to new vehicles such as the Regal and Verano, the brand is reaching a younger crowd that’s new to General Motors. The average age of a Verano buyer, for instance, is 57 — and trending down. The median age of a Regal GS customer? 43 years old — according to Buick. In fact, the brand’s own market research exhibits an even more substantial drop — from 65 to 59 over the last five years. And there are signs that the average age will continue to drop even further thanks to the discontinuation of the Lucerne, which was often purchased by the elderly, as well as the introduction of the upcoming Verano turbo with an optional manual transmission and subcompact Encore crossover.
The brand expects the Encore, for instance, to primarily attract two groups of buyers: 25- to 30-year-olds and empty-nesters, perhaps in their early 50s — according to Buick marketing manager Lloyd Biermann. However, Buick still has the second-highest average customer age in the industry — only behind Lincoln.
More important that average age is perhaps the statistic that a whopping 41 percent of Buick buyers are new to the brand. But serving younger customers, who are usually more fickle and more likely to change brands, presents a challenge of its own.
Buick sales were down 16 percent through April of 2012, mostly in part due to the discontinuation of the Lucerne large sedan — which was a fleet queen. On that note, fleet sales are down drastically and incentive spending is lower than a year ago. Has Buick found its mojo? Perhaps. But the brand still needs to fill several important holes in its lineup — and a midsize crossover, full-size flagship sedan, and increasing the content of its current model range woulnd’t hurt.
The GM Authority Take
While a decrease in the average customer age is an interesting statistic, let’s revisit the basics: the goal should be to sell cars at a profit. And since Buick is positioning itself to be a luxury brand, and luxury brands usually command a premium over their non-luxury counterparts, a sale of a $50,000 LaCrosse to a wealthy elderly couple should be celebrated just as much as a sale of a $25,000 Verano to a 35 year-old up-and-comer. Because let’s face it: the law of averages dictates that the older, the more wealthy!