Millennials don’t like cars! How many times has this statement been uttered in recent articles? You can just feel the panic starting to set in among automakers who are trying to figure out how they are going to capture the attention of the predominant demographic for the next 30 years. However, what auto marketers – and brands in general – should realize is that Millennials aren’t a lost cause. The difference between Millennials and previous generations is that while Boomers and X-ers simply accepted the parameters of the “American Dream” – having a family, buying a house in the suburbs, and driving a car to work every day – Millennials are more likely to make their purchasing decisions based on what suits their current lifestyle.
Customized Marketing Is Key
In the case of the auto industry, the assumption is that Millennials don’t like cars because sales among the demographic are down – a valid enough conclusion. Yet, a recent study by AutoTrader.com found that of the Millennials surveyed, only 6% cited lack of interest in driving as a reason for not purchasing a car. Not only that, but many displayed discernible opinions about what brands they like and don’t like, with Honda and Chevy getting big thumbs up.
More than any other generation, Millennials value their individuality. Therefore, a generic brand message across all media is not going to make any leeway. The message must be customized to reflect their interests. Automakers such as Honda and Chevy have appealed to Millennials by vamping up their green efforts, producing the Civic Hybrid (already a high seller among the demographic) and the Volt, respectively.
A Fun Experience Can Save Brick-and-Mortar Retail
Another sector attempting to crack the Millennial code is brick-and-mortar retail. According to market research firm NDP group, Millennials are the least likely generation to turn a store visit into a purchase with a 57% shopping conversion rate. The question as to whether brick-and-mortar stores will even exist 10 to 20 years from now is always a healthy debate topic. However, Apple has certainly cracked the code. Millennials crave unique experiences, and the technology giant has found a way to make their stores a destination, rather than a chore, to visit. The clean, sleek design of the store itself is inviting, products are displayed for sampling throughout the floor, and the customer service – despite a somewhat confusing appointment system – is knowledgeable and accommodating. More than any other retail location, Apple stores have proven that brick-and-mortar stores can not only survive, but thrive. They just have to offer more than a product, because that can easily be ordered online.
Price Is Significant In More Ways Than One
Interestingly enough, the aforementioned AutoTrader.com study found that a generation often characterized as spoiled and self-absorbed is very price-conscious. More than 80% of the Millennials surveyed who didn’t have a car pointed to price as the main component for not owning one. Why is this significant? It proves that Millennials aren’t afraid to go against the grain. Whereas previous generations went through life’s motions because it was expected of them (re: The American Dream), Generation Y does what makes sense for them in the moment.
To those marketers fretting over how they will appeal to Millennials, don’t worry yet. It’s not a matter of whether or not your brand is interesting now; it’s a matter of whether or not it will make sense later.