Gen Z Shifts 'Car Culture' To 'Mobility Culture'

Baby boomers defined American “car culture” --  now Gen Z is creating a new “mobility culture” in its place, according to a report.

“The Birth of Mobility Culture,” from Allison+Partners, explores the implications for brand marketers of changing definitions of transportation. Generational values have evolved, says Marcus Gamo, senior vice president and automotive specialty group lead at Allison+Partners. 

“Values linked to traditional American car culture — what one buys and drives, serving as a direct reflection of one’s self — has morphed into those that place a priority on shared experiences and shared values,” Gamo tells Marketing Daily. “This insight is what led us to uncover the birth of mobility culture, one that Gen Z will grow up in and ultimately drive forward.”



Cars remain at the center of today’s transportation equation, but how they’re used is changing. While roughly 70% of licensed Americans drive their vehicles daily, 38% of those without a driver’s license say they have no need for one, according to the report, which surveyed U.S. consumers in January.

With Gen Z, the numbers become even more significant: Nearly 70% of Gen Z respondents do not have their driver’s license. Of those, 30% have no intention or desire to get one. 

Younger generations, including Gen Z, have begun to see automotive benefits that move beyond convenience to relaxation and social experiences. When asked why they would purchase an autonomous vehicle, Gen Z consumers cited relaxation as a primary factor (65%), almost equal to convenience (67%).

Gen Z sees cars more as appliances than any other generation, with more than half (56%) indicating a car represents essentially no more than a means of transportation. 

Technology and transportation have become synonymous. The excitement for autonomous technologies is driven by Gen Z, due largely to a high trust level with technology. Ultimately, 60% believe they will use autonomous vehicles by 2029.

The report also reveals that despite changing American consumer values and behaviors, brands remain more relevant than ever. For marketers, however, the introduction of this new mobility culture will require a revamped approach to effectively garner consumer loyalty.

As consumer relationships with cars evolve, automotive and transportation industry marketers must change how they engage with younger audiences, especially Gen Z.

“It’s becoming more important for carmakers, ride-sharing brands and other transportation players to underscore the benefits of a particular mobility option to communities of people rather than to individuals,” Gamo says. “This means spotlighting larger societal contributions, such as reducing the carbon footprint, easing noise pollution or making transportation safer. It is not mobility for the sake of mobility, but rather mobility with a purpose behind it.”

Marketers must focus on building relationships during the journey, not at the finish line. Younger consumers value authentic relationships with brands, according to Gamo

“What we need to remember is that decades of trust have been built with consumers, which has translated to authentic loyalty,” he says. “It’s critical for those within the industry to understand these evolving values, what advancements in mobility technology excite them and what concerns them. And, most importantly, engage with them along the journey and bring each of them across that important finish line together.”

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