I recently search for “Marketing cars to Millennials” into Google: 6,120,000 different results. Each link directed me to an article about the differences between millennials, people born between the mid-1980s and early 2000s, and all of the generations that preceded them.
Born in 1989, I fall right in the thick of that age range.
There are seemingly countless articles that explain how the millennial shopper is different from Generation X and Baby Boomers—even calling us the “Boomerang” or “Peter Pan” generation. And this is a shopping base now approaching 80 million strong in the United States, spending a projected $200 billion annual by 2017, and as much as $10 trillion throughout their lifetime. In other words, this is no segment to ignore.
With that being said, and contrary to so many articles I’ve read, millennials are also not a generation to be scared of. You heard me correctly. We’re really not that scary. There are some simple traits you should understand about this generation as well as utilize a few tools and strategies that help dealerships reach them.
3 Qualities of the Not-So-Scary Millennial
- Tech savvy and well-researched—Gone are the days that the salesperson knows more information about every car on the lot than the consumer who spent more than 15 hours researching an exact make and model. One of the most important features to a millennial (and, well, just about everyone) is efficient, functional, and easy-to-use technology. And I want that technology to sync seamlessly with my smart phone.
Tools to help—Over the last few years, several manufacturers have acknowledged that all consumers, not just millennials, have come to expect simple processes that enhance the buying experience. BMW, for example, with its genius bar concept that puts iPads directly into the hands of experts, not salespeople. Look for tools like Purecars’ value reports or Max Digital’s app that allow salespeople and consumers alike to quickly view all of the why buy messages of the vehicle they are looking at. Not only are these tools transparent, they allow salespeople to quickly answer questions on new and used vehicles whether they are at the desk, on the lot, or even in a test drive.
- The social generation (social media and reviews)—70% of all automotive buyers admit that reviews influence where they ultimately decide to purchase a vehicle. The millennial generation is a big part of that … but knowledge is power, right? Instead of being concerned or feeling threatened by this, simply make social and reviews part of your dealership process! This gives dealerships the ability to stand out among the competition and separate themselves when consumers are using social channels and review sites in their research.
Tools to help—Make it a priority. It’s so easy to push social and reviews off because they may not be selling the now buyer. There are several agencies out there that specialize in social media and increasing exposure for their clients. If you are not looking to go outside of your store, look for products like Hootsuite or Sprout Social that allow your Social Media Director to quickly schedule posts on multiple social channels at one time. For reviews, try to build an internal process. I’ve always seen that companies who tie bonus money into review gathering have been the most effective. If that is still not working, check with your current digital partners for their solutions or let us help you with your online reputation management.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T—This one may seem like the most obvious, but it may also be the most difficult. Simple things like a thoughtful, grammatically correct lead response will go a long ways with this generation. When you are born into the spell check era, it is almost inexcusable to have incorrect spelling on your lead response or website. Make sure your responses link correctly and encourage further shopping. Do you have walk around videos? Why buy videos? Employee introduction videos? Respect their intelligence and building trust are as important as ever.
Tools to help—There are dozens of tools and companies that provide video services; however, the biggest thing here is a mindset. Learn to appreciate that a millennial shopper allows your best salesperson to display his or her knowledge and expertise on the craft and potentially earn a customer who is likely to buy or lease several more vehicles in a lifetime. Historically, people have liked to buy from people they feel understand their needs. Don’t be afraid to let your younger sales representatives take on the challenge of a millennial customer; many times they may be naturally inclined to understand what they are looking for each vehicle on your lot.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about some of the technology and consumer habits of millennials is that their way of researching and shopping is not exclusive to them. In today’s world, more and more people are acting like millennials, so understanding this behavior gives a great perspective towards how most are shopping now and in the future. Be sure to align yourself with industry leading digital partners, use data in your decision-making and know how consumers are using technology to shop in today’s world.