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Jody DeVere

Jody DeVere CEO

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Who Are The Millennials, and Just What Is Going On?

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.

  1.  “The largest, most diverse generation in the U.S. Population.”
  2.  “They value community, family, and creativity in their work.”
  3. “Millennial women have more labor market equality than previous generations.”
  4.  “Millennials tend to get married later than previous generations.”
  5.  “Millennials are less likely to be homeowners than young adults in previous generations.”

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:

  1. “They want to grow, even if that means growing out of your company.”
  2. “They want a coach, not a boss. They expect greater accessibility to the leadership in their offices, and are looking for more mentorship rather than just direction. . . 69% percent consider their company’s review processes as flawed. . . Nearly 90% would feel more confident if they had on-going check-ins with their bosses.”
  3. “They don’t want to waste time on the little things. . .” They consider their employer’s reimbursement policies as too difficult to contend with, so they by-pass conference and special event participation.
  4. “They want balance and democracy.” Millennials will work hard but do not want to sit around the office until 5:00 p.m. if they have completed their work two hours earlier. . . Millennials no longer work for you; they work with you.”

Okay.  Now let’s talk about the millennial influence on the automotive industry.

A recent 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.

  1.  They aren’t influenced at all by advertising, and do not respond to advertising.
  2. They want to engage with brands on social networks, and expect brands (including auto dealerships) to personally engage them. 62% state that if a brand engages them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer.
  3. They are using multiple tech devices, with 87% using devices on a daily basis. They immediately respond to new product technology.
  4. They are brand loyal.
  5. They expect brands to give back to society, and are “sick and tired” of corporate greed.

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,, 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, Industry Evaluations,, Dealer Advantage,,

Roger Conant
Every retailer is always addicted to the 18-34 group. I heard this way, way back when I was an account exec for a radio group here in Houston in the _____ (never mind) So lots of marketers will make lots of money off "selling the dream" of the magic answer to unlock the Gen Y mystery. By the way, I DO NOT include Jody in that group. I have a great deal of respect for her and she would probably ALSO tell you that "when you meet this expectations of exceed those of all of the other groups--including Gen Y". My favorite take on this is by my favorite "selling to women" expert-- Bridget Brennan

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