Part I: The Millennial Mindset

Every generation does things differently. From shopping to careers to family life, younger generations are forging their own paths and writing their own rules.  For dealerships, this means taking a closer look at what’s fueling their buying behavior and learning how to forge strong relationships that bridge generational gaps.

Meet the Millennials

This generation has been the recipient of quite a bit of hype recently, and it’s not without cause.  With 75.4 million millennials in the U.S.—now the largest generational group in the country—it’s no surprise this group is causing a stir and forcing businesses to take note, adjusting their marketing and business plans along the way to meet the needs of these shoppers.

Millennials are doing most of their shopping online, moving at a faster pace, expecting information upfront, and resisting haggling over prices. And these are some of the exact traits that make millennials game-changers for dealerships.

Traditional dealership models tend to be time consuming, require shoppers to complete the entire purchasing process in-house, and involve at least some amount of haggling.  Millennials are turning the tables and asking for change—and successful dealerships are meeting them in the middle with compromises like online credit applications, real-time inventory and pricing updates on their websites, and state-of-the-art communication platforms like AutoAlert’s Pando that streamline communication and address challenges dealers typically face.

Millennials are a generation not like the rest. Their diverse needs and preferences make it difficult for marketers to pin down exactly what they want, but we do know this: millennials want convenience and access to information—and they lean heavily on technology to get those things. They thrive in low-pressure environments where they have all the information they need to make decisions in front of them with the click of a button. For many dealerships, this requires a change in philosophy and sales approach, placing a greater focus on building relationships and empowering shoppers to find exactly the vehicles that are right for them.

To top it all off, millennials simply aren’t “into” cars like the generations that came before them.  In general, these consumers want to spend their extra cash on experiences and the latest technology, accounting for large jumps in spending at companies like Uber, as well as smartphone providers.  Since millennials often see public transportation as a more suitable option to fit their lifestyles, many dealerships are feeling the effects of a generation that’s all about ride sharing, trading, and renting. Even though car ownership may not be a top priority with this generation, there are still some great ways your dealership can reach millennials:

  • Update your technology. And make sure it’s working and compatible across devices and platforms.  Millennials are looking for businesses that offer a great overall experience—and they’ll run if your technology is out of date or slows them down.
  • Personalize their experience. Millennials want to know you’re paying attention to their needs, and you’ll reach them more effectively by sharing with them, interacting, and getting to know exactly what they’re looking for in a dealership experience.
  • Do good. Millennial consumers are not only interested in what you’re selling; they’re also interested in how you’re interacting with your community and the ways you’re giving back.  They’re drawn toward businesses that support causes they care about, so take time out to give back—and this generation will notice you.
  • Collaborate and listen. When you are open to consumer insights and opinions, you’ll make shoppers feel more included in your brand.  Today’s shoppers want to be more involved with the brands they purchase, and they want to know companies are listening and taking their suggestions to heart.
  • Socialize and share. You’re probably already working on beefing up your social media platform, but if you’re not, it’s time to get started.  These shoppers are social.  They’re sharing, reviewing, and rating products online—and when your dealership is present and accounted for, you’ll be part of the conversations, earning trust and brand recognition along the way.

Millennials make up the largest and most diverse consumer group in the U.S., and this presents both a challenge and an opportunity for modern dealerships.  Sure, it will take some work to get to know these shoppers and learn exactly what they’re looking for when they step onto your showroom floor, but once you gain these insights, you’ll have unlocked the key to a consumer group that has $200 billion of spending power annually.

Millennial customers are an important part of your dealership’s customer base.  They have money to spend—and they are willing to spend it on the products and services that truly matter to them.  By reaching out to these consumers and getting to know the details regarding when and why they buy, you’ll gain valuable insights that will help your dealership grow alongside this generation.