Appealing to your Millennial customers can prove to be a challenging task in the auto industry. People often assume and associate Millennials with college debt, being unemployed and delaying even obtaining their driver’s licenses. However, research shows that this generation is projected to be the wealthiest ever, far surpassing Baby Boomers and Generation X. In June 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau stated that Millennials now make up more than one quarter of the U.S. population (83.1 million.) Baby Boomers were only representing 75.4 million of the population. With just this number alone, you should be prepared and educated on how best to serve this demographic when you’re selling on the lot and providing services to your Millennial customer.
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In a study conducted by AutoTrader.com in 2013, more than 1,000 Millennials were surveyed about their car buying habits and needs. The group was so large that AutoTrader. com separated them into two sub-groups: Young Millennials (ages 16-24, 92 percent single) and Older Millennials (ages 25-32, 53 percent married.) Despite coming of age in the Great Recession, traits of these Millennials include being tech-savvy and hyper connected, individualistic, optimistic and deeply trusting the experience of others.
Appeal to Evolving Needs
If you ask Millennials what they are looking for when purchasing a car, you may be surprised at what they value as their most important needs in a vehicle. According to AutoTrader, navigation system, satellite radio, Bluetooth, mp3 player and mobile integration are the top five most desired things they find essential in their future car. Millennials are likely purchasing a car because they need it due to getting a job, recently getting married, having children or even buying a home. Something in their lifestyle has dramatically changed; thus, they begin the search for a car out of sheer necessity. Approximately 72 percent of younger Millennials indicated that having a car is important to their social life. So, while considering the things that are important to your customers, you have to ask yourself: Is the car or the service our dealership offers something that best fits their needs?
Millennials deeply value brands and reputation, and purchasing the top brand is important to them. In fact, 46 percent in the study were willing to pay more for products that were consistent with their image versus 20 percent of the Baby Boomer generation. Recognizing that brands are important to Millennials means they are familiar with the top brands and may be searching for a luxury vehicle or a non-luxury domestic and import brand. Often, they know they want something innovative or stylish, because they are looking for something that directly fits their personality. Although these customers may have brand loyalty, you should also keep in mind that often they are in search of a new car because they are dissatisfied with the current brand that they own.
Building A Relationship
Building a relationship with the customer should be foundational in your sales pitch. Ask them what their main need or purpose is for purchasing a car. Maybe they are a newlywed in search of something to share with their spouse to drive to work or take long trips. Or perhaps they have recently started a family and just searching for something affordable and reliable. Whatever the circumstance, find out why they came to your dealership and how you can best help with their decision. By showing an interest in their needs, you can better help by finding something that custom fits their needs — and what they may not even know is available. While Millennials may seek instant gratification and efficient service, they still don’t want to be fed information or be seen as someone’s bottom line. Making a personal connection is still an invaluable part of the service — one that will frequently provide you with repeat customers. In an era where everyone is more connected than ever why not give your customers a reason to tell their friends and people they associate with on social media how great their experience was with your business?
Embrace Trends and Technology
In the survey, AutoTrader concluded that 83 percent of Millennials sleep with their mobile devices and 80 percent had texted within the past 24 hours. Technology is by far the easiest way to reach your Millennial customers. They are more connected to brands, critics and reviews, auto service providers and each other than ever before. If connecting through technology is the best way for a customer to feel knowledgeable and comfortable, your dealership should embrace this trend. Consider making a Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and corresponding through text messages and emails. More importantly, be sure that you are constantly updating and using all of these accounts to let your Millennial customers know that it is important to you. The more accessible you are online, the easier it becomes for your customers to find your dealership while doing research before they come in.
Your Millennial customers are vital to your dealership and your business as a whole. In a rapidly connected and evolving world, you should always try to stay ahead of the curve by understanding where your customers are coming from and what they value. Millennials have just begun hitting their stride in terms of economic influence, but their impact on technology usage has already changed the entire game of the car buying process. With a strong sales team and staff, effective marketing and a firm grasp on technology and trends, you will have no problem building and maintaining a relationship with your Millennial customers.