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From: Jared Hamilton
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Adam Shiflett

Adam Shiflett Senior Director of Marketing

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3 Reason to Stop Believing the Millennials Lie

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There is no escaping the love affair with Millennials. Everyone has an opinion on them and how they want to be sold and marketed. Every thought leader is giving their strategy on how to attract them. Every vendor is using Millennials as the reason the newest gadget is a must-buy. With all this attention you’d think that Millennials were the only ones with money.

The chatter about Millennials is they are suspicious of marketing. They rely more on friends than brands, particularly friends they’ve connected with online. They grew up in the information age so they leverage the internet to do research before buying and are purchase savvy. They shop online regularly and expect a seamless online to in-store sales process.

If you think these traits only describe Millennials, you’re wrong. Here are the facts:

  1. Business Insider reported Amazon demographics showing the online retailer’s buyers age broke down by Non-Prime vs. Prime users, the company’s upgraded account status. The study showed that Amazon customers 40 and up were more likely to purchase Prime memberships than younger generations. 60+ had the highest percentage of Prime users. Result: older generations are attracted to the convenience of premium online shopping.
  2. Social media isn’t some college dorm obsession. A Report from Pew Research Center found that 71% of adult internet users are on Facebook. Meanwhile InvestorPlace reports that the biggest growth segments for Facebook were for 55-and-up growing 80% and 41% growth in users 35to 54. It seems that older generations are connected online just like their younger counterparts.
  3. The DrivingSales Consumer Experience Study reports that 99% of car shoppers expect the process to be a “hassle”. That goes across every age group, demographic and vehicle type. The result of this frustration is that 56% of those surveyed would buy more often if the process were easier. Bottom-line everyone wants a better buying process, not just Millennials.

The research about Millennials is all true. They tend to be less brand loyal, distrust marketing, trust friends and do their research. The lie is that Millennials are the only ones who these facts apply to and expect a better buying process. The internet age has rewritten the book on buying process expectations for everyone.

Let me break down two scenarios that occurred during the DrivingSales research initiative: 1. A gentleman goes to a dealership ready to pay cash for a car, but walks out when he is required to give his personal information before a test drive. 2. A shopper is frustrated by a dealer’s website lack of information and refuses to visit the lot because of it. What were the ages of each of these individuals? The demographic assumptions would indicate the opposite of reality. The first gentleman with cash in hand was in his 20s, the frustrated online shopper was in his 50s.

All your customers want more control in the buying process. They want the buying process to be responsive to their needs, not a linear one-size-fits-all model. It’s time to wake up from the Millennials lie and adjust to what all customers really want, a more responsive/personalized sales process. 

Joy Hannemann
Great post Adam. Technology is certainly changing the way consumers interact and make buying decisions. Millennials may be the early adopters of technology but the environment for adaptation is too fast paced to assume utilization doesn't span generations. Humans will always want to interact (and do business) with people they like and trust.
Adam Shiflett
@Joy Great points. The tendencies of doing business with those we trust/like certainly hasn't changed, just the way we do business. It used to be the only way to establish trust was through face to face, but that has definitely moved online with transparency and ease of transaction.
James Litton
Amen to this stuff. I am a big advocate of a fluid sales process within a wider framework, not a dictatorial sales experience for customers!
David Ruggles
RE: "1. A gentleman goes to a dealership ready to pay cash for a car, but walks out when he is required to give his personal information before a test drive." HINT - You absolutely do NOT do test drives without a copy of the drivers license left in the store. Anyone suggesting that practice be stopped has obviously never owned a dealership. Its always a good idea to learn a business before setting out to change it.
David Ruggles
RE: "They tend to be less brand loyal, distrust marketing, trust friends and do their research."All true. Consumers have always done research. Customers today have so much more information. They also have less ability to unpack that information, so they have more info but "know" less. Its like drinking from a fire hose for them, but they think they know, which can make them really prickly to work with. Auto retail has run off a LOT of talent. Putting a bunch of youngsters who think they know more than they do with youngsters who are inexperienced and who aren't given all the information by their ownership isn't an equation easily solved.BTW, don't think I'm suggesting we give sales people "all the info." I'm not. Its none of their business just as it is none of the business of the consumer. For those who think "transparency" is the answer, I suggest posting your triple net cost and listing your margin separately. See how that works out. Apple will be transparent when they do the same. Do you ask the grocer what the cost is of the head of lettuce you are buying?Another hint to those who want to remake auto retail in the image of Amazon, Apple, Disney, or whomever. We already retail new vehicles for about break even after expenses. And consumers as a group still aren't happy. Decades ago consumers were happier when our industry sold new cars for real net profit. Our mission is to win them over one by one, not try to mollify them as a cohort. If we are successful one out of three times, we're doing well. What piques customers is the thought that someone might have gotten a better deal than they did. Its the FTC that prevents us from sticking to MSRP. If we could, consumers would all be happy, right? They'd all pay the same. There would be no Scott Painter "friction" and we'd be doing a 20 million SAAR, right? How do you please them all? I do my own surveys. Every time I'm in front of a group I ask for a show of hands of everyone who believes a dealer is entitled to an 8% to 10% return. I don't use terms like gross profit and net profit, because few people are accountants. 80% to 90% raise their hand feeling that this is reasonable. A little later I ask the same question differently. "How many of you would be happy if you got home and discovered your dealer had just made a $3K profit off of you. NO ONE raises their hand. Go figure. So much for surveys. What is important is to know what they mean rather than what they say.

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