Latin American Automobile Purchase Decision Makers


San Josť, Costa Rica (photo credit: Marcelo Salup)

The core of the infrastructure for an industrialized economy consists of manufacturing, communications and transportation.  In turn, each piece of the infrastructure may constitute a self-sufficient industry of its own.  In most countries, the sale and re-sale of automobiles are considered a major component of economic activities.

Although the roads in many Latin American countries seemed to be clogged with automobiles all day and all night, it does not necessarily mean that everybody goes everywhere in their own automobiles.  Mass transportation still serves a significant portion of the population.  Furthermore, automobiles are durable consumer goods that are fairly expensive to purchase and maintain.  Once purchased, an automobile will serve the owner for years, even decades.  This means that, at any point in time, only a small percentage of the population are 'in the market' for automobile purchases, so to speak.

We will now cite some survey data from the TGI Latina study.  This survey study includes 34,938 persons between the ages of 20 to 64 years old from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Venezuela who were interviewed during 2001.  The projected universe is 123,883,000 persons.  According to the TGI Latina study, 6.6% of these people classified themselves as a decision maker for the next automobile purchase.  

The next table shows the demographic breakdown of these automobile purchase decision makers.

Demographic Characteristics % Next Auto Purchase Decision Makers
Socio-Economic Level
     Level A (top 10%)
     Level B (next 20%)
     Level C (next 30%)
     Level D (bottom 40%)

12.2%
  8.8%
  6.0%
  4.3%
Age/Sex
     Male 20-24
     Male 25-34
     Male 35-44
     Male 45-54
     Male 55-64

     Female 20-24
     Female 25-34
     Female 35-44
     Female 45-54
     Female 55-54

  8.0%
14.1%
12.1%
15.2%
10.0%

  4.8%
  5.2%
  5.6%
  5.6%
  4.7%
Occupation
     Director/upper management
     Middle/lower management
     Professional
     Technician/mechanic
     Administrative
     Maintenance/security
     Lower commercial
     Artisan/domestic service

15.5%
13.6%
15.0%
11.2%
  7.8%
10.1%
  5.4%
  1.0%
TOTAL   6.6%

The characterization of these automobile purchase decision makers is primarily along two themes: male and affluent.  However, affluent male persons do not account for 100% of all these people by any means.

When people go shopping for new automobiles, they have different criteria based upon their own circumstances.  Here is a slew of factors that may be considered important:

The next two graphs are correspondence analysis maps that show the relationships between these factors and the two demographic variables: gender and socio-economic level.  By gender, young men are apt to be more concerned about speed as well as the image and advertising whereas women are more likely to listen to recommendations from other people.  By socio-economic level, the lower classes are more sensitive to issues of prices and operating costs while the upper classes are more concerned with image, reputation and looks.  These results can hardly be described as new revelations.

(posted by Roland Soong, 12/10/2001)


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