In 2014, millennials became the largest generation in the United States, surpassing baby boomers, according to several sources.

At 25 percent of the population, millennials are poised to be 40 percent of the vehicle purchasers in 2020. But marketing to them has proven to be challenging.

The traditional tactics don’t work anymore, and the new strategies seem to leave the older generation of vehicle purchasers in the dust. How do you compromise?

The good news is that you don’t.

Baby boomers are active on social media and are just as connected as millennials.

  • 82.3 percent of baby boomers reportedly belong to at least one social media site (with Facebook the most popular).
  • Baby boomers spend more hours online per week than those between the ages of 16 and 34.
  • Baby boomers are the more likely generation to look for more information after seeing something of interest on social media.

Millennials may have grown up on digital but the generations before them have adopted the technology and are extremely active.

Here are four ways to reach millennials and their parents:

1. Focus on Referrals via Social Media

Millennials like to share, and many strive to get likes and positive feedback for what they put up on social media. In fact, 70 percent of millennials are more excited about a decision they’ve made when their friends validate it on social media. If you can encourage them to share their experience, this word-of-mouth is sure to garner interest in your dealership.
 
If a baby boomer sees a social media post from their network, which may include their children and their children’s friends, regarding the purchase of a vehicle, they are likely to search for more information.

2. Focus on Word-of-Mouth Referrals

More than just a Facebook post, leveraging the power of intent to get your customers to refer your business is a great way to increase both retention and conquest. According to David Neuman, CEO of Gaea North America, “If a millennial hears a recommendation from a friend or colleague, they are more likely to buy and try a product than if they just happen upon it in a print ad.”
 
Overall, 74 percent of consumers are said by researchers to identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision.

3. Engage, Don’t Market

Millennials have many tricks to avoid marketing. Pop-up blockers, ad blockers, and DVRs are just a few ways customers can avoid your commercials and marketing tactics. Millennials prefer to be engaged, meaning businesses need to provide relevant content that meets their needs, when they need it. If digital engagement to you means batch-and-blasting emails, they will delete your message, and send it to their spam folders without ever reading past the headline, or unsubscribe.

4. Tell a Story

Millennial customers like stories, especially if they are in the form of a short video. They are easy to digest and shareable. Stories also humanize businesses, and offer a glimpse into what makes your dealership better than a competitor’s. The more a customer, millennial, or baby boomer feels a connection with a business, the more likely they are to remain loyal.

At first, baby boomers may have been slow to adopt new technological modes of communication; however, digital has become standard, is more comfortable, and is much more widely used.

Paula Tompkins

Paula Tompkins

CEO and Founder at ChannelNet
Paula Tompkins

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