It may come as a shock to some automakers, and a few parents, but a new proprietary study from The Family Room finds that three of five parents (57 percent) today involve their kids in car-buying decisions.

The story, originally appearing in Advertising Age, caught our attention, and we wanted more details. In a telephone interview, George Carey, CEO of The Family Room, told FamilyCarGuide that things have changed rather dramatically since the last survey in 2009. At that time, just 38 percent of parents surveyed said they involved their children in the car-buying decision process.

The latest study, conducted in 2011, looked at a number of different categories including automotive, vacations, electronic purchases, and others. The result is a lot of information about the relative purchase influence of kids vs. parents, how often parents are conferring with their kids on cars to buy and what cars not to buy, as well as what brands are most aspirational to kids and their parents.

Favorite brands – kids vs. parents

Any guess as to which brands are the favorites among kids and their parents? You might be surprised. Kids gravitate toward the Jeep brand as their number one choice, at 18 percent. That’s followed by Chevrolet and Ford, tied at 17 percent each, then Toyota and Honda in a tie at 16 percent, and Volkswagen at 13 percent. Dead last: Chrysler and Mazda, tied at just 2 percent each.

As for the parents, the choices were more clear-cut, involving no ties among the top five choices. Toyota came in at number one with 29 percent, followed by Honda (24 percent), Ford (21 percent), Chevy (19 percent), and Jeep (9 percent). At the bottom and tied at 3 percent each: Hyundai and Mazda.

One point worth noting is that the survey didn’t get model-specific, so there’s no breakdown as to which Jeep or Chevy or Ford or Toyota, for example, kids or their parents most preferred.

Carey did comment, however, that NASCAR, based on many metrics, is the most popular family sport in America today and, to the extent kids are getting information about new cars, this is one source. That may account somewhat for the high percentages for Chevy and Ford, at least where kids are concerned.

What’s changed?

Things have moved from a world where things were driven by what the father or mother wanted to what the family wants. This is a huge potential impact, which, for the most part, Carey said that the automotive industry hasn’t embraced.

Several factors account for the shift toward more parental involvement of their offspring in what type of vehicle the family will buy. Carey outlined four of the most prominent.

1) Good parenting – Parents’ definition of what constitutes good parenting is shifting. One of the number one values and lessons parents are trying to pass on to their kids today is the skill of making the right choices on their own. One of the ways parents are doing that is giving their kids “more engagement and more responsibility rehearsals” in family decision-making. Parents are teaching their kids to make good choices and evaluate their options effectively while they’re still at home and under the parents’ protection.

2) Information – Parents are realizing that their kids have more information in many categories than they do. Kids are incredibly aware of developments in technology and consumer products and parents are increasingly likely to turn to them for their authority, to the extent that it’s warranted.


This story originally appeared on Family Car Guide.


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