Marketing to Millennials: When Billboards Won’t Cut It
By Dan Ready, AutoAlert Vice President of Marketing Services
Marketing to the next generation of auto buyers means so much more than a billboard advertisement, magazine, or newspaper ad. It’s even more than an email campaign. Today, it takes a Tweet, a post, a selfie, a video clip, and more. It’s imperative whatever medium is deployed is quick, efficient, and creative to ensure dealerships hit their mark with millennial consumers. It boils down to truly understanding this unique audience.
Millennials are best described as those who reached young adulthood around the year 2000. Around that same time, the internet also began to experience rapid growth and usage, so it should come as no surprise that online platforms and social media outlets have become the essential go-to when it comes to engaging these younger, modern consumers. It is crucial for seasoned automotive marketers to take a step back and realize how significantly automotive marketing has changed—and must continue to change—to ensure engagement with the millennial audience is compelling, authentic, trustworthy, and credible. This audience relies heavily on social media peer-to-peer recommendations, along with ratings and reputation-monitoring sites, which means dealerships that earn their trust will also earn their online advocacy.
Millennials & Your Dealership
How do millennials affect you? When you nurture and cultivate this growing demographic, you’ll ensure long-term growth for your dealership. To do this, however, there are some key considerations:
- Social Media. As more people turn to social media for information, insights, and product research, businesses are learning it’s important to foster brand engagement and create an interactive customer experience on a variety of platforms. Currently, approximately 90% of young adults ages 18 to 29 utilize social media, and when dealerships utilize platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to reach their audiences, they increase their reach, especially to younger audiences who access social media multiple times each day. Maximizing these powerful outlets by sharing valuable content and building relationships with online influencers can dramatically impact the way young consumers view your brand, your vehicles, and your reputation.
- Vehicle Ownership. It’s challenging to consider the changing transportation trends of younger generations. Millennials don’t have the same affinity or reliance upon vehicle ownership as previous generations, instead relying more heavily on public transportation, ride-sharing alternatives, and other in-the-moment solutions. The popularity of smartphones and the tendency for most millennials to be digitally connected mean this consumer group can interact instantly to satisfy personal wants and needs—including calling on transportation when it’s needed. On the lookout for ways to save money on car payments, fuel costs, maintenance, parking, and more, many millennials now view the purchase of a vehicle as unnecessary. For professionals in the automotive industry, this means it’s now necessary to market and sell differently. They must show millennial shoppers there are still plenty of practical reasons and benefits to consider vehicle ownership.
- Experiential Preferences. Today’s younger consumers prefer to allocate their finances toward life experiences, rather than spend their money on acquiring material possessions. They value the ability to dine out frequently, travel, and participate in hobbies and outside interests, a growing trend that explains the popularity of services like Uber and Lyft. This differs from previous generations who often measured success with big-ticket items, such as homes and new vehicles. Millennials are looking toward experiences to find purpose and meaning—both in life and in the workplace—and for dealerships, this means changing your marketing and meeting these shoppers where they are in their journeys. By getting to know your shoppers and providing the solutions that meet their needs, dealerships will succeed in a changing marketplace.
Those of us who interact with millennial consumers on a regular basis realize they are some of the most receptive individuals, yet they are often misunderstood or understated as a group. While many perceive this demographic as overly image-conscious or entitled, seeking instant gratification, those who work closely with them truly understand they simply have a new way of thinking. By tapping into their unique mindset, dealerships can create new opportunities and work with a generation that’s innovative and eager to participate in a modern marketplace.
Keep in mind, the automotive market has been focusing on change and innovation for years; these are the things that drive prospects into showrooms every day! The challenge for today’s marketers is to tap into the millennial mindset and get to know exactly what younger consumers are looking for and then leverage the power of social media to generate excitement, enthusiasm, and interest in vehicle ownership. You can capture the millennial market, but it will take more than billboards!
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