According to population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials are on the cusp of surpassing baby boomers as the nation's largest living adult generation.
To put it bluntly, boomers are dying off, and from an automaker's perspective, the oldest of the generation are nearing the end of their vehicle-buying days.
In contrast, millennials are entering their prime car-buying years, which were offset by The Great Recession in 2008-2009. They're past their college years, earning good salaries and considering moves outside of urban areas.
If you're an automotive marketer and still think of millennials as teens who only use ride-sharing services, a Placed white paper may change your mind.
Fifty percent of millennials are married, the majority are college educated, one in six makes over $60,000 annually, and they account for one in five dealership visits.
Furthermore, one in three millennial dealership visits is a shopping visit.
Placed found that across all dealership visits, Ford, Chevrolet, and Toyota top the list for millennial dealership visitation.
The landscape changes when visitation is broken out by visit intent. Kia is the only brand on the top three list for both auto shopping visits and the more focused subset of test drive visits.
The brands with the highest shopping index are Kia, Honda and Nissan and the brands with the highest test drive index are Hyundai, Volkswagen and Kia.
Although millennials are ready to buy cars, they also shop differently. But Placed theorizes that their behavior follows consistent patterns that can be used for optimizing automotive marketing programs and ad campaigns.
Finally, while initial industry research pointed to an unfavorable trade-off between car ownership and-ride sharing, newer studies indicate that ride-sharing is supplemental to car ownership -- and Placed visitation data validates this position. Uber is among the top 10 apps installed by millennials visiting dealerships. Millennial auto-shopping visits over-index for Lyft and Uber app installs.
For this analysis, more than 20,000 surveys were used to create custom automotive shopping segments within Placed Insights. By comparing the behavior of confirmed automotive intent to the broader population, indexes were constructed to drive the analysis described in the study.
The bottom line is, while millennials are obviously quite different from baby boomers, the number buying vehicles is only going to continue to rise, so automakers need to consider what motivates their car shopping behavior.