For the most part, young investors love the same stocks that older investors do. After all, gains are gains regardless of who produces them. That's why Apple and Amazon are key components in so many portfolios, regardless of investor age. Both are huge companies. It's difficult to avoid them as prospective holdings.

However, if there's one stock name the baby boomer and millennial camps can't agree on, it's Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA). Millennials seem to love this company, yet it's conspicuously unpopular when you examine the portfolios of older investors. There's a handful of reasons for this, but arguably one big one.

Grumpy old man

Image source: Getty Images.

Them and us

Don't read too much into the investing message this fact seems to send. Baby boomers don't necessarily "hate" Tesla.

On the other hand, they clearly don't see the investment potential in this company. Whereas Apex Clearing recently said Tesla became millennials' top pick as of the end of the third quarter, according to data from broker Charles Schwab, Tesla isn't even a top-10 holding for baby boomers. 

This split in interest makes enough sense. Most baby boomers grew up in a world where every car they've ever seen or driven on any road has been powered by combustion. Even when the hybrid Prius from Toyota rekindled interest in the idea of electric vehicles in the late '90s, it was largely seen as a novelty. Baby boomers were between 35 and 53 years old in the late '90s, having seen nothing but gas-powered cars before then.

Enter Tesla.

Tesla was founded in 2003 but didn't put its first car on the road until 2008. And even then, it wasn't a game-changer. Its Roadster was ultra-cool, but also a completely impractical electric sports car starting at nearly a six-figure sticker price. Tesla's far more marketable Model S didn't debut until 2012, but it priced starting at a more affordable $50,000 and was better suited for families, the proven vehicle turned out to be the game-changer it was supposed to be.

Many millennials were in their 20s when Tesla made EVs a marketable alternative to gas-powered automobiles. There's no proverbial baggage that prompts them to doubt their feasibility.

Changing perceptions

Baby boomers' skepticism of Tesla stock bears out in data about their perception of the product. The same goes for millennials.

A study by the Drive Change, Drive Electric organization last year found that 68% of millennials are considering the purchase of an electric vehicle. For baby boomers, however, that figure falls to 38%. Unsurprisingly, environmental concerns are the key motivator for most of those consumers with their eye on a battery-powered vehicles. Range anxiety is the chief reason drivers won't buy an EV, and while that worry is attributed to most skeptics regardless of their age, older consumers appear more concerned than their younger counterparts.

Both themes are hallmarks of each generation's unique life experiences.

Think about it. The younger generation has consistently heard about mankind's threat to the planet's environmental sustainability since they were born. Baby boomers have only seen gas-powered vehicles for the majority of their lives, and have understandable reasons to be wary of what -- to them -- is a sweeping change. It stands to reason that if investors don't believe in the product themselves, they're not going to buy into the idea that EV ventures will make for good investments.

That doesn't necessarily make them right, however. In fact, baby boomers are coming around, at least in terms of believing in the potential of electric automobiles. Earlier this year, Consumer Reports found that the Tesla Model 3 was the "most satisfying" car for millennials as well as baby boomers. This may indicate the seeds of change are being sewn about their view of the company as an investment.

Don't sweat it

Popularity polls can be concerning. If you're a baby boomer and own Tesla shares, the fact that your peers typically don't own it could prompt you to second-guess your position. Likewise, if you're a millennial and don't own a stake in the electric car company, you might conclude you're missing an opportunity.

Neither of those concerns is merited though.

Above all else, you should feel comfortable with the stocks you own for your particular goal. Following the crowd isn't necessarily right for you and your situation. In fact, legendary investors Warren Buffett and Peter Lynch have both said investors that have done their homework and understand how a company is positioned within a particular industry should trust their own intuition -- even if that means defying the crowd's prevailing opinion.

In other words, if you think Tesla's got potential, own it. If you just don't see it, don't buy it. Either way, don't sweat it.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.