How F&I Managers Can Better Understand Generational Selling
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How F&I Managers Can Better Understand Generational Selling

There is a reason why auto dealers spend an abundance of time today working with agency partners to better understand their customer. They can leverage data today to understand how no two customers are alike in every attribute, from their vehicle preference right down to their financial capacity to pay. 

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Personalization Must Go Deeper for Different Generations 

Dealers today understand that the process of personalization can greatly improve the chances of maximizing profit potential, as well as maintaining a long-term relationship with their customer. 

The same holds true when selling F&I products to customers, and while every customer has their own unique set of preferences, it is just as important to understand what resonates from one generation to the next. 

There has been a lot of focus today on selling to Millennials. This is perhaps because people in this age group surpassed Baby Boomers in terms of the number of individuals available to spend, with 79.4 million people between the ages of 22 and 36 years old. Naturally, this is a prime target for vehicle shopping, but it’s not the only group dealers should be focused on. Understanding the nuances and emotional appeals of not only this demographic, but also Gen-X, Boomers and even Gen-Z, can make the difference between a good sales month and a great one.  

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Understanding Different Generational Segments 

There are several reasons why it’s important to be able to segment your customer base by demographic and age group. Factors such as income, geography, gender and age are some of the most common market divisions. However, age specifically is broken out today between five general demographic categories, signaling five distinct buyer groups. 

  • Gen-Z: born after 1996; oldest is currently 24 years old; population around 67 million 
  • Millennials: born 1981-1995; currently aged 24-39; population around 79 million 
  • Generation X: born 1965-1980; currently aged 39-54; population around 65 million 
  • Baby Boomers: born 1946-1964; currently aged 55-73; population around 75 million 
  • Silent Generation: born before 1946; currently aged 74 and up; population around 28 million 

Connecting with Different Generational Buyers 

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Everyone is a consumer, but not everyone has the same need, nor will the same promotional characteristics appeal to everyone on the same level. Different generations and age groups are motivated by a unique set of factors and by differing worldviews established by their own set of experiences. Dealers, salespeople and F&I managers must be cognizant of these different generational values and how it translates to the car-shopping experience. There are a few distinct generational values dealers should understand that can help define generational shopping behaviors and needs. 

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Gen-Z grew up experiencing the Great Recession in their pre-teen years, which means they saw entire household wealth and income nest eggs get wiped out. At the same time, this age group has always known the internet and the power of the smartphone. These will shape their lives into being digitally advanced in their shopping habits but also conscious of real value. 

Millennials have been known to be more self-focused than other generations and they encompass an emotional connection to their shopping experiences. They appreciate when companies see them as important, and they were the first generation to experience a sense of immediate gratification of needs. The first generation to grow up with social media, they’re deeply influenced by friend recommendations when it comes to branded experiences. 

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Generation Xers grew up without the internet, social media and smartphone devices, but they quickly grew accustomed to these technologies. This confluence makes them understand the power of tech, but they also have an appreciation for “traditional” ways of doing business inside the showroom with in-person relationships and branded experiences.  

Baby Boomers have lived a life with the understanding that “seeing is believing,” therefore they want to know if what you’re selling is worth buying. At the end of the day, they want to know that they’re getting value and quality.  

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The Silent Generation will never forget the economic scars of the Depression era, and thus they usually will not buy a product if they can’t justify a need for it. When they do make a purchase, their focus is on quality and reliability. 

Understanding each of these demographics, their differences and what motivates each of their buying behaviors is key for any dealer or F&I manager in understanding how to not only reach them for purchase potential, but also in keeping them as a long-term customer. 

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