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Aimi Gundersen

Aimi Gundersen Project Manager

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The Evolution of Millennials and Cars

Millennials.They make up more than 75 million of the U.S. population, and have been researched, analyzed, and dissected from their emergence onto the scene in the 1980’s to today. Do they hate cars? Why are they not buying? Do we even market to them?

Just as in life, people change, trends change, and Millennials have definitely changed. They morph as fast as the technology around them-- and they have developed, enhanced, and gained ground in the automotive market.

They are also to the point of financial stability and purchasing power.

So,Heavy D and the Boyz had it right. Now that we found love (car love that is), what are we gonna do with it?

Here are some suggestions on marketing to millennials as well as debunking the myths, based on my Gen X love of music, research on Gen Yers (Millennials) and an abundance of coffee.

The Sky Is NOT falling (Adele):

During 2010-2012,  most research done on the shopping habits of this group of individuals stated that it was the end of an era. The love of cars, the passion around driving--it was all gone. Millennials don’t like cars. They love their smartphones. That is it.

The automotive industry--and American culture as we know it--will be changed forever. Call an Uber and get over it. Millennials are not buying cars.

Until they can afford it.

The picture looks different in 2015. A J.D. Power study that tracks buyer behavior reported last month in WardsAuto: “As Gen Y consumers enter new life stages, earn higher incomes and grow their families, their ability and desire to acquire new vehicles is increasing" (Fortune Magazine). They are looking for cars--and looking for cars that represent who they are. Features such as being eco-friendly, socially responsible, and ready for the off-roading weekend are all stated as important.

It is not a different marketing approach than before, just different content. People drive cars because people like them drive those cars.

Show them what they are looking for.

The Myth of Love--Georgia Satellites

The myth that millennials are not purchasing cars is gone. We need to stop putting all of our eggs into the Boomer and Gen X basket.

Millennial car buyers are showing up at the perfect time. Boomers’ share of new auto purchases peaked in 2010 and will only go down from here, according to John Humphrey, senior vice president of automotive operations at J.D. Power. (Bloomberg) To the tune of  a 13% increase over older buyers in 2013.(Fortune)

And according to all research, Reality really does bite for Gen Xers. (I am one of them and can contest to this.)

This is the best time to remove the myths and start reaching out to your Millennial customers the way they want, in the format they want, with the message they want.

Good Lovin’--Grateful Dead

Millennials are lovin’ their cars. The idea that they are not interested is grossly overexaggerated. A study done by Edmonds chief economist Lacey Plache stated that this notion is not only incorrect, but that millennials love really cool cars.

“Some people have said that Millennials generally dislike cars and don’t enjoy driving, but my analysis shows that Millennials’ actually have a greater preference for luxury and sports cars than their older counterparts.” (Fortune.com)

A study that involved 3,610 Millennials between the ages of 18 and 34, and revealed that this generation may be more interested in cars than their older counterparts. For example, 70 percent of Millennials enjoyed driving versus 66 percent of Generation Xers and 58 percent of Baby Boomers (Dealer.com).

They are ready to buy--and don’t want to settle.

Fooled Around and Fell in Love--Elvin Bishop

This group “fools around” on their smartphones for everything from initial research to final point of purchase. And it is not all research prior to walking into the dealership. Millennials continue research while they are in the dealership, talking with you, looking at vehicles.

70 percent know little about what car they are interested in before shopping. Ironically, 70 percent know exactly what they want when they walk on lot for purchase after completing research. Your opportunity to sell them is online. (automobilemag.com)

Conversely, the study also revealed that 76 percent of Millennials would give up social media for a day rather than their car, while a whopping 72 percent would give up texting for a week rather than be without their car. (Dealer.com)

Who do you love? George Thorogood

Not you. Unless you are giving them a hassle free, customer centric experience.

Millennials want transparency, clear and understandable marketing, and a faster experience. Get rid of the outdated and unsatisfying purchase experience.

  • 83 percent said they wish car brands would explain how vehicle prices are set
  • 87 percent said they feel the car-buying process should be more “fair”  
  • 80 percent said that buying or leasing a new car should take less time 

They are turned off by the “hard sell” and desire upfront pricing with no negotiations.

  • 44% would pay for a dealer to come get their vehicle for repairs and drop off a loaner. (Deloitte’s 2014 Global Automotive Consumer Study )


Take Away:

Millennials are ready to purchase automobiles and have been doing so for quite some time. To write them off is to write off the largest portion of your customers. Boomers purchasing is declining, and many Gen Xers are not in the position. Market to your Millennial customers, meet them where they are (online) and give them the customer experience they desire.

 

Aimi Gundersen is an Automotive Lead Specialists, Blogger, Speaker, Educator, and a Project Manager for BetterCarPeople. Aimi has her masters in communications and her doctorate in Higher Education and Adult Learning. Her life is dedicated to making people smarter, stronger, and more efficient in any capacity of work. Contact her at aimi.gundersen@bettercarpeople.com or connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

Resources:

http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/automotive_and_assembly/ten_ways_autonomous_driving_could_redefine_the_automotive_world

http://www.edmunds.com/about/press/millennials-claim-they-are-better-car-shoppers-than-their-parents-reports-edmundscom.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-20/millennials-embrace-cars-defying-predictions-of-sales-implosion

http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2015/01/20/10-new-findings-about-the-millennial-consumer/

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/09/the-cheapest-generation/309060/

http://www.automobilemag.com/features/news/1408-autotrader-survey-says-millennials-lead-the-car-buying-revolution/

http://www.dealer.com/insights/three-ways-your-dealership-can-attract-millennial-car-shoppers/

http://fortune.com/2014/08/29/millennial-car-buying/

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-10/millennials-think-they-have-it-bad-generation-x-has-it-worse

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