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Marketing to Millennials: The Data

By DrivingSales News on Apr 23, 2014

They love technology. They grew up using the Internet. They are used to instant results. Many have sizable student loan debt. We’re talking about Millennials. This term typically refers to those individuals, in this case, Americans, born between 1982 and the early 2000s.

The next generation of America is different from their parents. According to Forbes, they also represent “the biggest generation of customers ever,” some 80 million strong in the United States. A recent Adroit Digital study of 2,000 Millennials (18-33) revealed data about this group that could prove insightful as dealers attempt to market to the iPhone savvy crowd.

Brand loyalty played a large part in this study. 64% of Millennials surveyed indicated that they were as much or more brand loyal than their parents.  77% indicated that they evaluate brands using criteria different than their parents and 24% percent believe that they are more brand loyal than their parents. This underscores the importance of carefully crafting your company perception and image to give this group a strong brand to support and ultimately, buy from.

It’s helpful to know what may cause Millennials to select a new brand. The chart (pictured below) indicates the reason why a new brand is given a chance. 

It should serve as no surprise that a generation often facing sizable student loan debt while working their first few jobs out of college is concerned about price. However, for those not convinced that going digital is the answer, take a look at the lowest ranking member of this graph: traditional advertising. Two of the top three are arguably within the realm of a dealers’ control, and to some extent go hand in hand. A dealership with an outstanding reputation will likely be in a stronger position to build value than one with a Google review page full of negative experiences. I'll have more on that later on. 

One thing to consider is that if your dealership isn’t advertising though “mobile channels, smartphones, and tablets,” 39% of Millennials see your brand as outdated and undesirable. I know; it’s a harsh generation. The good news is that the same study found that 35% of this group still view TV Advertising as the most influential advertising channel compared to 32% who said the same about social advertising. The bottom line: Millennials can still be reached to some extent via TV, however, I would caution that many of them view “TV ads” as those commercials that they can skip while watching shows on their iPad.

Whether it’s a smart device or laptop posting, Millennials love to communicate. From, a marketing perspective, they want to digitally interact with “you," meaning your brand. 44% of those polled “want to have open dialogue with brands through social channels.” This means engagement. If a customer poses a question on one of your company’s social accounts, are they responded to? Is that response given in a way that shows that it’s a real person, not a rote response coming from your dealership? Improvements in reputation and perceptions can happen one response at a time. The data suggests that this generation seems willing to engage with companies who are fluent in social media communication.  

That willingness to communicate means that you are willing to use your social platforms as a voice in times of success as well as trial. “52% of Millennials want brands that are willing to change based on consumer opinion and feedback to maintain future relevance.” There are a lot of ways to read that finding. Among other things, it says that over half of this generation wants to know that a company is listening to them. If customers post the same complaint on your social channels over and over and it’s something that you can feasibly change, will you do it? Will you explain why you can't change it? Does your response show that you value feedback? 

Finally, the Adroit Digital study found that, “38% of Millennials will switch brands if a company is found to have bad business practices.” Customers have stayed away from businesses for this reason for years. However it’s different now. Your dealership could be losing customers before they come on the lot because of a bad experience leading to a bad review and thus negative association with your brand. Here’s how it goes down: Millennials will just look up your business on their phone and read the reviews. A 2013 Dimensional Research Survey found that 90% of consumers are influenced by seeing positive online testimonials, while 86% were influenced by seeing negative ones. While that stat doesn’t refer to Millennials, it certainly speaks to their behavior. It’s critical to not only take online reviews seriously, but to have someone monitor and respond to them.

What do you think?

Do you agree?

Do dealers need to craft strategy specifically for Millennials? 




Even though the Millennials have coveting a few new channels of advertising doesn't mean you abandon the other channels. Effective branding leverages multiple channels to convey its message. That is still a time tested principle all dealers should harken.

Apr 24, 2014 (Last Edited: 2014-04-24 07:49:04)

  • Director, Automotive Works with OEMs and Dealers to Automate, Inform and Engage
  • dScore: 6

I think that Chris makes a great point - Millennials are going to looking at various forms of communication, with texting growing and of course focusing on social selling.

Apr 24, 2014

The article is a great bit of evidence in favor of building the proper relationships with Millennials. My son, who is 17, and just graduated from high school will not even go to a movie if the online reviews are too negative regarding it. I agree with Chris Halsey's comments too. Each generation responds differently to varying forms of communication, and being in sales, it's our responsibility to communicate with our customers in the manner they are most comfortable.

May 17, 2014

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