Social media aspirations drive car choice for many millennials

New research from Admiral Car Finance has discovered that the influence of social media even affects the cars we drive


Social media isn’t just for selfies and pictures of fancy meals – we’ve found that it can even play a part in car choice. 53% of millennial drivers (those aged between 19 and 36 years) admitted that they felt pressure to buy a particular car for status, while half that number of drivers aged 37-54 said the same.

30% of millennials were led by their budget when it came to choosing a car and 22% were influenced by their friends. Facebook impacted the decision of 22% of millennials and Instagram swayed 16%. On the other hand, only 6% of generation X was influenced by Facebook and 4% by Instagram.  

Social media also plays an important part in showing off our cars. 28% of all drivers post pictures on social media of their cars, or themselves in their cars – but as many as 47% of drivers aged 19-36 post these kinds of photos. 70% of drivers used Facebook and just over half used Instagram to share their car-related photos.

When it comes to how we pay for cars, our research found that younger drivers are more likely to use credit to fund their car buying. 64% of millennials use car finance, compared to 38% of generation X. The most common monthly car finance budget was £300-399, and that applies to both generations.

However, millennials were willing to spend more on car finance than generation X, with 31% of millennials prepared to spend more than £500 per month compared to 12% of generation X. And 13% of millennial drivers would spend half their monthly salary on car finance if there was a car they really wanted.

Top 10 most popular car choices

Rank Millennials – Current make/model Millennials – aspirational car choices Gen X – Current make/model Gen X – aspirational car choices
1 Ford Fiesta BMW i8 Ford Focus BMW i8
2 Vauxhall Corsa Audi R8 VW Golf Audi R8
3 Volkswagen Golf Ford GT Ford Fiesta Aston Martin Vantage
4 Volkswagen Polo Aston Martin Vantage Vauxhall Astra Land Rover Range Rover Sport
5 Ford Focus Mercedes Benz C Class Vauxhall Corsa Ferrari Enzo
6 Vauxhall Astra Land Rover Range Rover Sport Nissan Qashqai Volkswagen Golf GTI 
7 Renault Clio Ford Fiesta Vauxhall Zafira Mercedes Benz C Class
8 Toyota Yaris Mini Cooper Audi A3 Ford Fiesta
9 Fiat 500 Ferrari Enzo Volkswagen Polo Mini Cooper
10 Audi A3 Fiat 500 Honda Civic Porsche Cayenne

Scott Cargill, CEO at Admiral Loans said: “While budget is still the main influence for all generations when choosing a car, for many millennials in particular it would seem that social media influencers matter too.  It’s really important that anyone taking out finance on a car remembers that the most important factor is not what social media, or their mates, think is cool, but picking a car that is affordable to ensure they don’t put themselves under undue financial strain.

“Celebrities and online influencers in particular are likely to be photographed in cars that they have been loaned as part of sponsorship or are using for advertising purposes. There’s a good chance they don’t actually own or pay the finance for those cars themselves and stretching yourself to copy them could land you in financial difficulty.”

Doctor Dean Burnett, author and neuroscientist said: "In the current economic climate where traditional milestones like owning a home or securing permanent employment are increasingly out of reach for the younger generation of millennials, it seems that other factors are influencing decisions like car buying. Social status in an increasingly interconnected world is becoming far more important as a result."

For more insight into the differences between millennials and generation X when it comes to cars, check out our infographic

Admiral’s top tips for choosing a car on finance

  1. Stick to a budget. Figure out what you can afford to spend each month on your car, making sure you don’t forget to factor in fuel, insurance, tax and maintenance costs.
  2. Shop around. Don’t just go for the first deal you see – make sure you’ve done your research before going to the car showroom.
  3. Make sure you understand the type of finance you’re taking. Is a car loan deal best? Or is HP or PCP preferable?
  4. Bear in mind that what you see online isn’t always as it seems. Someone posing with a flash car might not actually own it – it could be a sponsored post or part of an advertising deal.
  5. Test drive a few cars before making your final decision and don’t allow yourself to be pressured into making a snap decision.  

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