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There are some things about being young that most people grow out of. Like most of the men of his generation, Dennis does not wear the shoulder-length blond hair so many of them wore in high school during the 70s. There are other things that are generational. For example, generations tend to hold on to their music for life. Kids do thing differently compared to how their parents participated in those same activities. Will today's young people eventually interact with autos and auto dealers the way their parents and grandparents do, or is this where the American path turns in a different direction?
A recent University of Michigan study points out that only 84% of Americans in their 20s even had drivers licenses in 2008, compared to 94% just 25 years earlier. The study concluded that many young people would rather spend their time traveling across the Internet than the open roads.
DMEautomotive recently released a study on vehicle service trends. We talked to DME's Chief Marketing Officer, Mike Martinez, about the study. He expressed a great deal of confidence that young vehicle owners will continue their preference for aftermarket repair chains over auto dealerships for many decades, unless something is done to win them over.
Many young vehicle owners have never shopped for a vehicle or any other expensive, durable product without first shopping online. Maybe they don't need to have trusting relationships with retailers and service centers; they have a vast online community to give them product and ownership advice. In a recent study by Chevrolet and MTV, 75% of Millennials say they are so connected they are never really alone.
Will young people ever feel as passionately about cars as past generations have? Some will, but the most likely bet is that the percentages will continue to dwindle. It would appear that many young people cannot stay off their mobile phones long enough to safely drive across town. The inevitability of self-steering vehicles (autonomous driving) will make it possible for vehicle owners' passions to stay ever closer to their connectivity and further from their vehicle.
Lindsey points out that her generation (Millennials) blooms a little later, largely because of college debt and the difficulty of getting that first good job in the recessed economy. She also points out that there are more vehicles than licensed drivers, so the idea of automobility is not as privileged as it used to be. Many more Millennials grew up in households with 3 cars, compared to their parent generation. Twenty percent of U.S. households have a third vehicle, and the percentage is surely much higher among households with children of driving age.
Of course, personal transportation is sure to have a place in just about any feasible future. Autos may even continue as a fashion statement as well. What is your vision for how consumers will interact with our products and our stores over the decades ahead?