teen holding the keys to her new car
Data and Targeting

If you follow the U.S. Census guidelines that the Millennial generation ended in 2000, every Millennial hit adulthood as of January 1, 2019. That means they’ll be making major decisions like car purchases in the near future—if they haven’t already.


Before we dig into what this means, let us start by saying that no generation of people can be defined together as a single unit, and the years that define them can be in dispute. What cannot be disputed, however, is that the changes in society, technology, and communication that impact the qualities we ascribe to Millennials carry over into other generations as well. Ignoring Millennials often means missing the mark across the board.


But for the sake of simplicity, back to Millennials. Though their tendencies and expectations have been used to explain the decline of branding and marketing, industries have finally come to realize this generation is not above advertising—they simply need a different approach.


Use the following statements to see what you know about reaching this generation, and others like them. Does your current marketing strategy accurately meet this audience’s needs?


1. Millennials only respond to digital marketing. MYTH

A study by the USPS found that Millennials feel a strong connection to tangible marketing. They love getting mail—and marketers should love sending it. Recipients of mail are forced to make a decision once they have it in hand—a quick decision usually, but one they are nearly guaranteed to make. Personalize it with customer information (found in your CRM), and the likelihood that they spend more time on that one piece skyrockets nearly 500%.


2. Millennials make up the largest purchasing generation in 2019. MYTH

For now, Generation X is the largest purchasing generation. Emphasis on “for now.” Research predicts that as soon as 2020, Millennials will make up about 40 percent of the new-vehicle market. As of 2017 that percentage was 29. Your dealership can’t afford to ignore that growth.


3. Millennials are focused on ‘having stuff.’ MYTH

This generation has been referred to as the “Me Generation” and is depicted as strictly materialistic. This isn’t necessarily true. Most Millennials are more worried about the experience that comes with buying or using a product or service. So, if you have a reputation for great customer experience, rest easy. If you don’t, well, you may want to get started. 


4. Millennials are excited about owning a car. Erm, MYTH?

Millennials, more than their predecessors, have high levels of personal debt. Whether from higher education, credit cards, or loans, a majority of Millennials are cautious—and nervous—about spending money. Cue the trend of considering month-to-month payments rather than a total cost! As a result, the average financing period has stretched to over 69 months. Millennials are also more inclined to get a vehicle because they need one, less so because they want one.


5. Millennials aren’t loyal to brands. MYTH

For car dealerships concerned about brand loyalty, this sounds like a great thing to qualify as a myth. But before you get too excited, let us throw in a caveat: Millennials really aren’t brand-centric. They buy generic when they can, simply to save money. However, they tend to give their repeat business to the suppliers that really “wow” them in customer experience and company mission (Throwback to points 3 and 4).


Millennials have grown up alongside advanced technology for the majority of their lives. Social media and analytics have revealed how experiences can be catered almost perfectly to their needs and expectations. Showing Millennials that your dealership knows who they are and what they want could be the difference between a vehicle purchase and a return customer for years down the road.


We realize the dangers of overgeneralization in marketing and selling. Every group of people is made of individuals with different experiences and influences. So ask questions and get to know your customers—the values of the Millennial generation expect it.

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