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An Increase in Generation Z Consumers Is Good News for Dealers

Learning what makes Gen Z tick and tailoring your selling process accordingly will take time, but in the meantime, prioritize relationship building.


Over the past few years, millennials have overtaken baby boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation, but a new era of consumers is surpassing millennials: Generation Z. With the youngest members of Gen Z being born in 2012 or so, they’re coming of age. By next year, they’ll account for 40% of consumers. This is good news for dealers. Why, you ask?

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Whereas millennials tend to prefer “collaborative consumption” of vehicles due to their belief that car ownership is difficult, 92% of Gen Zers plan to own a vehicle and prefer that method of transportation. And 68% value face-to-face interaction and love brick-and-mortar shopping, meaning they won’t have a problem with visiting a dealership to shop for a vehicle. 

To appeal to Gen Z, follow the tips below.

Use Technology to Keep Them Engaged Throughout the Buying Process

It’s hard to believe, but this generation has never known (or can’t remember) a world before the internet, smartphones and social media. Every week, they spend 15.4 hours on their smartphones on average. Technology is ingrained into their lifestyle, shaping their expectations for a streamlined, on-demand customer experience. They’re impatient, and if a business isn’t able to meet their needs quickly and simply, Gen Zers will move on from that business.


That’s why it’s important to incorporate technology into the buying experience by equipping salespeople with tablets or using an interactive display in the F&I office to review options with the customer.

You should also eliminate any obstacles that complicate the buying process. For example, if your dealership struggles with keys that frequently go missing or if salespeople don’t communicate about when they’ll be using a specific key, implement an electronic key control system that allows you to reserve vehicles for test drives ahead of time and tells you which employee last checked out a key.


That way, you can quickly retrieve vehicles for test drives and ideally have the vehicle pulled around by the time a Gen Z customer arrives for an appointment. If they have to wait while you search for a key or vehicle, your odds of landing the sale go down.

Emphasize the Right Vehicle Features

Generally speaking, Gen Z car buyers are more practical than millennials. Price is important to both, but 43% of Gen Z teenagers said they prefer safety features compared to 25% of millennials when they were the same age.


With that being the case, be sure to point out all a vehicle’s safety features. Gen Z cares about the environment too, so if the vehicle has any green features or if the manufacturer participates in any eco-friendly programs, mention those as well. Considering that Gen Z is growing up in a digital world, playing up in-vehicle technology features is sure to catch their attention.

Of course, your salespeople must be familiar with the vehicles you sell to be able to knowledgably discuss specs, features and competitive differentiators. Encourage them to brush up their knowledge in their downtime and familiarize them with how to sell to different age groups during your sales training. 


Earn Their Trust

Building trust is important for customers regardless of their age, but it’s especially important for Gen Z. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to earn their loyalty.

They’re more distrustful of traditional ads and marketing campaigns than any other age group, so building a good reputation bolstered by positive reviews, social media posts and word of mouth, along with community involvement, is critical to getting them to consider doing business with your dealership.


Building a positive reputation goes back to providing a good experience. If your customers feel that you’re not being honest with them, if the buying process takes too long or if your operations are clearly disorganized, customers are going to share their experience with review sites, social networks and friends and family.

Learning what makes Gen Z tick and tailoring your selling process accordingly will take time, but in the meantime, prioritize relationship building. Once a Gen Z customer walks through your doors, be prompt, upfront and helpful, using technology to enhance the buying process and emphasizing the vehicle features Gen Zers want most. Do these things, and capture your share of the next generation of car buyers.


Steve Robinson

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