Great Communication Bridges the Generation Gap

It can be tricky for businesses to innovate for younger consumers while still meeting the needs of everyone else.  There’s an art to striking the perfect balance, but when your dealership makes a point of focusing on the shopping habits and preferences of different generations, it will pay off.   Your messages will resonate with more shoppers, and your efforts to deliver exactly what’s needed for each generation will result in a healthier bottom line!

Right now, there are four solid generations in the car-buying market, with a fifth just beginning to scratch the surface of their buying potential.  Each generation has distinct communication styles, as well as characteristics that make them valuable to your dealership.  To get a better understanding of what they’re each looking for, check out what drives them in the marketplace:

Generation Z: Born 1994-2010

This is the newest generation of shoppers to arrive on your lot—and they’re young.  In fact, most of them aren’t buying cars yet. They’re between 6 to 22 years old, so only the oldest members of this generation are shopping for their first rides.

It’s worth paying attention to Gen Z, however, because by 2020, they’ll make up 40% of the U.S. population.  They are the most connected and tech-savvy generation yet, and they lean surprisingly toward in-person communication when developing relationships and networking.  Of note for businesses, this generation moves beyond frugal and seeks out the best overall value when  shopping, so be ready to point out features and benefits to woo them.

To win over Gen Z, keep in mind their eye for value and their need for efficiency.  These consumers place a high value on experiences over products, so you’ll want to ensure you market to them in a way that conveys the positive experience they’ll get from vehicle ownership.

Millennials: Born 1981-1997

There are more than 75 million millennials in the United States. They’re adaptable and have grown up with constantly evolving technology. Millennials are highly educated, and they have more choices than generations before them. Their buying habits are less predictable, and they’re open-mindedness and willingness to branch out diminishes their brand loyalty.  Additionally, they are just as comfortable buying online as they are buying from physical stores, which signals a major shift for retailers.

To win over millennials, ensure you dealership has a strong online presence.  Interact regularly on social platforms, and ensure you offer easily accessible vehicle information that includes prices, ratings, and inventory. Average daily social media time continues to increase, so businesses that maintain their online presence will get more facetime with this generation.  Millennials gravitate to businesses that utilize the latest technology, so when you invest in tools and tech that make it easier for them to buy a car, you’ll earn their business.

Generation X: Born 1965-1980

About 66 million Americans make up Gen X. Unlike their parents, they grew up without a strong economy, which made them more cautious with their spending.  When marketing to this generation, you’ll be successful if you keep in mind the importance of value and long-lasting purchases.

Currently in their golden years of spending, they’re a perfect target market. Although they’re not as tech-driven as millennials, they’re still open to adopting mobile devices and accessing social media. They’ll steer clear of the latest trends, however, and they aren’t easily convinced about new products or services. Gen-Xers believe actions speak louder than words, so they rely on customer testimonials and research.

To earn the trust of this generation, remember they’re developing their technology skills, so use a combination of traditional marketing alongside digital and mobile tools.

Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964

Made up of 75 million consumers, the Baby Boomer generation grew up in a time of economic prosperity and social upheaval. They believe in hard work, individualism, and social activism. Their experience lies mostly in traditional media, but they enjoy researching and making their own decisions.

Although they make smart and frugal financial decisions, Boomers have more disposable income than any other generation—and that stands to grow in the near future.  Nielsen marketing predicts this demographic will soon control approximately 70% of the nation’s disposable income, and they also stand to inherit an additional $15 trillion within the next several years.

You’ll win their business by highlighting vehicle features—such as GPS functionality, superior gas mileage, or enhanced sound systems— that will make their lives easier.

The Silent Generation: Born 1927-1945

Made up of about 50 million consumers, the Silent Generation, responds positively to messages of respect and appreciation.  Known as “Traditionalists,” they have lived through four major wars, as well as the Great Depression, and like to be acknowledged for service to their country.  Not only do they have enormous patriotism, they are also known for spending wisely. This makes them the least likely generation to make impulsive purchases.

While they’re working to become more tech-savvy, they are less responsive to web and mobile marketing than other generations. Traditionalists are most often persuaded by flyers, newsletters, and postcards. When trying to reach them, consider promotional material that’s easy to read and contains less complicated visuals.

Success Begins by Knowing Your Audience

When you know your audience, you can deliver exactly what they’re looking for.  As your demographic grows and becomes more diverse, it’s increasingly important to focus on the unique needs of every shopper group to deliver the best solutions.  The more you know about your customers, the more they’ll enjoy the experience your dealership has to offer!

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