In 2016, Millennials accounted for almost 30 percent of the car buying market with just over four million car purchases. America’s largest living generation, particularly those in their 20s to mid-30s, is currently spending plenty of money buying cars.
If you want them to buy from your dealership, winning the hearts and minds of Millennial car buyers starts with understanding what makes them tick.
Who is the Millennial Car Buyer?
Millennials have come of age during a time of technological change, globalization and economic disruption. This new generation turns to their handheld devices to meet all their needs. Whether it be hailing a ride through the Lyft app or ordering a burrito through the Postmates app, technology is how they get things done. They’re plugged into their devices 24/7 and are disrupting traditional consumer patterns.
Here’s what we know about their car buying habits:
• They are open to any brand. You may call them fickle, but the times are a-changin’. Millennials won’t necessarily buy cars for status, image or brand loyalty.
• Their needs are practical. Gone are the days when owning a car meant freedom and maturity. Cars are more of a utilitarian purchase than an aspirational one to Gen Y.
• They invest more time in the car buying process. While you might label Millennials as “impulsive,” that’s simply not the case when it comes to purchasing a car.
The Millennial generation is the largest in U.S. history, and as they enter their prime spending years, their impact on vehicle sales will be significant. That means car dealers will have to work harder to meet the demands of Millennials. Here are a few ways you can earn their business:
Don’t Sell, Build Trust
Gen Y car buyers spend an average of 16 hours researching a vehicle before deciding to buy; they know what they want. Moreover, they were born into a society that embraces diversity and individuality. As a result, Millennials place a very high value on authenticity and transparency. Don’t just try to sell them a vehicle; build their trust.
In the online world, technology alone cannot build trust — only people can. Live chat is the only tool that allows your dealership to break through the online noise and cookie-cutter content. You can use real-time conversations to your advantage by offering insight and advice, showcasing your team’s personality and answering questions that come up during the research process.
Put Effort Into Effortlessness
It’s no secret that Millennials have a low tolerance for friction-filled processes. They are aware and equipped to find a better experience without hesitation. And, when it comes to the online experience, their expectations are even higher.
While dealership Websites have made leaps and bounds towards improving the online experience, customers are looking for the simplest interaction — human interaction. Live chat gives Millennial shoppers the opportunity to engage with a real person. Whether they need assistance navigating to the appropriate page, want to set an appointment or just want insight into the latest in-vehicle technology, live chat is there.
Live chat never gives up, never takes a sick day and is always there for your Gen Y customers. So don’t make them work for a good experience. If you only focus on the in-dealership experience for customers, you’re probably missing out on a big chunk of the Millennial market.
Be Where They Are
The times of “traditional marketing only” success are over. Make no mistake — we are experiencing a market channel revolution. And, as the first generation to grow up in the midst of this revolution, Gen Y expects to be able to move across digital channels without missing a beat. That means live chat on your Website, Facebook Messenger, third-party Websites and even click-to-message options on digital ads need to provide a consistent experience.
And don’t forget that mobile matters. In fact, 45 percent of Millennials do most of their vehicle research on a mobile device. They leverage mobile in the car buying process to get pricing, find classified listings, locate a dealer, look up specs and read reviews. Offering live chat, SMS texting or both may very well tip the scales in your favor when it comes to winning a Millennial’s business.
Win Aftermarket Business
Believe it or not, the Millennial market is ideal for winning aftermarket business. In fact, 25 percent of all consumers getting car service are Millennials. And, as this generation ages, that number will likely rise. While your advertising efforts can promote only one need at a time, live chat can cater to all of your customer’s needs at any stage — research, ready to buy, trade in, customer service assistance and aftermarket services.
By incorporating live chat to your fixed operations strategy, your aftermarket shoppers can:
• Ask questions about your technicians or services
• Easily talk to a rep about any vehicle issues
• Effortlessly set service appointments
As Millennials continue to influence trends and redefine buying habits, car dealers will need to get creative and work to meet their demands. My final advice to you is this: Embrace technology and know that as the world changes, those who learn to adapt quickly will be the winners.