Market Snapshot


Despite their youth and relatively low incomes, enthusiasts in the “Gen Y” age range are big buyers of custom automotive parts and accessories. Results from the 2008 Automotive Lifestyles Survey conducted August–September of this year show that 16-27-year-old enthusiasts spent, on average, nearly $3,000 on specialty equipment over the last year.

And with their $65,000 average annual household incomes, this youth market continues to devote a sizable chunk of discretionary income to its cars, according to the survey.

Exhaust kits and performance air-filter replacements top the list of products purchased by “Gen Y” enthusiasts surveyed. In fact, because of the relatively low cost and bolt-on nature of most of these products, they typically are the first specialty-equipment products purchased once enthusiasts take ownership of their new vehicles.

Many surveyed bought products that they perceived would help improve fuel economy—a growing concern during the summer months. These enthusiasts waste no time accessorizing their vehicles after purchase; nearly three out of four surveyed said that they first began personalizing their rides within the first two months of ownership. 

The 16-27-year-old enthusiasts surveyed here are subscribers of automotive magazines and visitors to automotive forums, so it comes as no surprise that they say that they get information about specialty-equipment products prior to purchase from these types of media.

When it comes to actual purchasing however, the highest percentage said they buy from online retail stores (35%), trumping manufacturer websites (15%), custom shops (13%) and auction websites (12%).

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