First, let’s define the years that define this group: “A person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000, born inclusive of the years roughly between 1980 and 2004.”
In describing their characteristics, we find that there is a constantly changing description since as late as 2009. Without question, this group is proving to be more totally unique and diverse than any previous generation. This is by far the fastest growing consumer group in the nation, and they are drastically changing our economy’s perspective on marketing on products and employment. Economic forecasts are suggesting that within ten years they will be controlling the economic directions for our country, and they will represent 75% of the workplace by 2030.
We can look at this as scary, or exciting and lifestyle changing. If in fact these projections are true, then we had better make every effort we can to understand this group, or we may be left behind.
In this article, I will focus on two different aspects of this group:
Who they are. What their buying characteristics are, how they are impacting our economy now, as well as projections for the future.
Their effect on the automotive industry from the perspective of a buyer, how they view and participate in the auto industry as an employee, and what the industry will have to do to not only sell product to them, but also tap their skills and keep them as valuable employees.
Let’s start with who they are. Here are only some frequent descriptions and statements that have been used by correspondents representing all phases of the American economy.
Morey Safer from “60 Minutes” said it well: “The workplace has become a psychological battlefield and the millennials have the upper hand, because they are tech savvy, with every gadget imaginable almost becoming an extension of their bodies. They multitask, talk, listen and type, and text. And their priorities are simple: they come first.”
Millennials are not going to settle, as their parents may have done, and they put lifestyle, social communication, and friends above work. They are not looking at work opportunities as “career” defined. As a matter of fact, the average tenure of Millennials is two years, and they do not consider it negative to have a resume that indicates multiple job experiences in a one year period. They are entrepreneurial and watch for opportunities that will move them upwards, even if this means frequent moving from one job position to another.
Jeff Fromm from FORBES recently outlined some of their workplace characteristics:
Okay. Now let’s talk about the millennial influence on the automotive industry.
A recent AutoTrader.com study observes the following: Despite the fact that millennials currently only make up 12% of the U.S. new car sales, they will account for 40% of new car purchases by 2020. They are “big on small” vehicles, better designed for urban usage where many of them live. Since their generation faces higher levels of unemployment, lower entry pay, and the likelihood of greater college debts, these factors influence a clearer grasp of economic realities. Mobility is the keyword. 95% of millennials go online during the buying process, compared to 79% of overall respondents. They are waiting longer than earlier generations to get their driver’s licenses. At younger ages they are image-conscious, but as they age are likely to become more practical in their automotive choices. As to auto brands, older millennials are likely to include Mercedes, BMW, and Audi models, but younger millennials move more toward Japanese choices.
Here are some additional observations from Forbes.
Let’s try to sum up this enormous data base.
Remember: Millennials want job security, time off for personal needs, good benefits, opportunity for advancement, and a job that “helps society.” They also list excessive work hours, inconsistent income, and social stigma as reasons they may not consider employment in the auto industry.
Since 43% of Millennials place “a job you enjoy” as most important, auto industry must somehow adjust to these demands, and find more effective ways of not only welcoming the millennials into our workforce, but treating them seriously as major customers.
It is not just the auto industry that is going to be affected by the millennials. How our entire business economy responds will not only determine our potential successes or failures in these relationships, but may also jeopardize our very survival in this rapidly evolving economy. We can no longer “wait and see” how things will turn out. We may find we waited too long.
Jody DeVere. CEO, AskPatty.com, Inc.
Research Sources: The White House Economic Report, excerpts from Hireology, Forbes, Correspondent Morey Safer “60 Minutes” Broadcast, Detroit Bureau CNBC, “Driving Sales News,” Mosley Automotive “18-22 Year Old College Study,” University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute reports, Autotrader.com Industry Evaluations, Dealer.com, Dealer Advantage, Accenture.com, CDKGlobal.com