Like Maxie Kaan-Lilly, a 30-year-old realtor and model in South Florida. Her Rolls-Royce Dawn is her only car and she takes it everywhere, she says.
“It’s my turn or die,” she said of her white convertible.
Prices for Dawn start at more than $350,000, before any options, and Kaan-Lilly sees her car as both a mark of success and a tool for business, she said. Clients are impressed when she picks them up from the airport and drives them around a property in the comfort and opulence of a Rolls-Royce, she added.
“Rolls-Royce is the epitome of success,” she said, “so when I got to this point in my career, I decided it was an investment I wanted to make because it is an investment in yourself, really.”
Few other car brands have an average buyer age as low as Rolls-Royce. Rolls-Royce is owned by BMW, which also owns the British brand Mini. The average age of a Mini buyer in the United States is 52, according to BMW, and around 55 for the BMW brand itself.
Data collected by consultancy IHS Markit during the third quarter of 2021 shows that Rolls-Royce had a higher percentage of buyers under the age of 45 than many other luxury and exotic brands, including Mercedes-Benz, Audi , Lexus and even Lamborghini.
The reason can be boiled down, in large part, to an age gap between the rich and the super-rich. People in Rolls-Royce’s target market – people with enough money to spend between a third and more than half a million dollars on a car – are on average younger than those who are simply wealthy . Recent surveys by Spectrem Group, an advisory firm that studies high net worth investors, show that people with between $1 million and $25 million in net worth are, on average, around 62 years old. Those with a net worth over $25 million are on average 48 years old.
Spectrem Group director Randy Wostratzky wouldn’t speculate on the reasons for the age gap, but the difference matches how Rolls-Royce Americas CEO Martin Fritches describes the brand’s customers. Rolls-Royce buyers tend to be entrepreneurs, elite athletes and artists, he said. It does not describe people who have just had well-paying jobs and saved and invested carefully for many years, although there are also a few. Rolls-Royce customers, for the most part, earn their money while they are still young enough to enjoy it. And they don’t wait.
“We have a lot of new athletes, and so on,” said Lonny Soza, president of Post Oak Motor Cars, a Rolls-Royce dealership in Houston. “In the past, these, these would be established MVPs and so on. These are the young guys who have just come onto the scene.”
“They made it a much, I don’t mean ‘sporty’, but sleeker, much cooler Rolls-Royce version of it,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, a marketing consultancy, about of the new brand. models
Most important, however, according to Rolls-Royce and its dealers, were two additions to the lineup. First is the Cullinan SUV, introduced in 2019. It appeals to younger customers, especially those with families, Fritches said. Besides its SUV practicality, it blends in better with other vehicles on the road today and looks less ostentatious than one of the big sedans.
Fadi Zaya, a 36-year-old Los Angeles-based luxury car consultant – he helps wealthy clients buy rare ultra-luxury cars – has bought himself a Rolls-Royce Cullinan even though, he admits, he doesn’t didn’t like at first. Now it’s his favorite.
“I know other younger generation people who love the SUV because it just feels younger,” he said.
In her SUV, Zaya got one of Rolls-Royce’s most popular options, an overhead “starlight headliner” that twinkles tiny lights like stars in a night sky. His was personalized, however, so that the “stars” were arranged to resemble the night sky of his birth, he said. (By default, the starlight headliner is laid out to resemble the stars above the Rolls-Royce factory on the night the first Phantom was built under BMW ownership in 2003.)
Another factor attracting young buyers, according to dealers and company executives, is the Black Badge option package. On the Rolls-Royce Black Badge versions, most of the chrome parts, such as the grille and the Spirit of Ecstasy statuette above it, are blackened and smoked chrome. The suspension on these models is also tuned for slightly sportier handling, although – this is Rolls-Royce, after all – the focus remains on a silky smooth ride.
The Black Badge option has been specifically designed to appeal to younger buyers who want something less flashy than Rolls-Royce’s traditional shiny chrome, and it seems to work. It’s growing in popularity, said Rolls-Royce Beverly Hills brand manager Jennifer Stroup.
“We’re seeing more Black Badge orders than we’ve had in the past, than we’ve had in a long time,” Stroup said. “I mean, it’s a $50,000 option. It’s definitely a great choice.”
Rolls-Royce recently launched its own social media and content app, called Whispers. Available only to Rolls-Royce owners, Whispers has the kind of content often put into the nifty magazines that many car brands send out to their owners. Whispers also offers the ability to interact with other owners and offers things like special travel packages.
Just one more A quarter of Rolls-Royce owners in the Americas are members of Whispers, according to the automaker, and they tend to be younger. The app offers entry into a world of others with, obviously, similar tastes and bank balances.
“It’s just amazing” says Kaan-Lilly, “I mean, just networking, meeting friends, clients.”
It sounds like a clique, but that sort of thing has a strong appeal to people at those levels of wealth and power, said luxury brand consultant Padraza.
“You want to know that the people you meet are safe and part of your tribe,” he said. “It’s just the way the world has come together.”