Millennials are known for being the first generation to completely grow up in the digital age. All prior generations had to adapt to technology and constant connectivity as it developed, but millennials were born right into it from the start. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that millennials have a different approach to many things, including the way they shop for and purchase cars. Smartphones, niche apps, and a demand for increased transparency in the car-buying process continues to reshape the auto industry with the goal of capturing this desirable age group.
Instant Access to Information
One major difference in the way millennials shop today versus the process for the baby boomer generation is the convenience of having immediate access to an unlimited amount of information at their fingertips through the internet. When it comes to purchasing a vehicle, millennials are looking at countless websites describing every make and model you can imagine, combing through meticulous data concerning the car’s features, comparing competitive brands, and for pre-owned cars, requesting a detailed history on the vehicle itself and its previous owners. More and more apps are being developed that cater to this exact need and offer popular vehicle comparisons, local deals that can be found at nearby car dealerships, and even financing options that may be available based on an individual’s credit scores. Millennials will also often take to social media to ask for car recommendations or feedback from their peers to help narrow down their choices.
Reliance on User Ratings and Reviews
The overwhelming amount of available information for prospective car buyers has changed the dynamic of the traditional sales funnel. Millennials are now more empowered and go into a car dealership already equipped with most of the information on the cars for sale which they need to make an informed decision on a vehicle. By being privy to authentic reviews on specific products and services, most prospective buyers already know what features are most popular and effective, but also see the shortcomings and challenges that real customers before them have experienced. More so than any sales pitch, these reviews sway their decisions on which cars to buy and where they choose to purchase the vehicle from. For this reason, it’s important for car dealerships to have a strong, transparent online presence with informative and positive reviews, in addition to simply having a quality product. It turns out that simply having an amazing vehicle on the market isn’t enough by itself if your customers are not willing to confirm and document that through online ratings and reviews.
Importance of Brand Image
A characteristic that is very apparent in the millennial generation is the importance placed on aligning their own values with the brands they choose to purchase. On one hand, a great deal on a car is a significant factor when shopping for a vehicle. However, if the car company has a notorious reputation for doing things that are socially or morally unacceptable, such as claims of unfair treatment of their employees, millennials are generally willing to forego that deal. They will typically pay more to purchase a different car rather than supporting a brand that does not show integrity or represent their personal values. Many major car brands recognize this pattern in the younger generation and are boosting marketing efforts to showcase their support and funding of non-profits, popular social campaigns, and/or local charities in their communities. This type of corporate involvement can hold a lot of weight with millennials when compared to other car companies that do not publicly engage in philanthropic activities.
Features that Appeal to Millennials
Advanced technology features continue to be a big draw for the younger, tech-savvy car shopper. Media connectivity, GPS navigation options, and being able to integrate smart phone features with the car are high on the list of priorities for millennials. Something that defines this generation is being constantly connected, and they expect no less from their cars. Bundled offerings, such as the Nissan Intelligent Mobility option, include innovative driving features and connectivity capabilities that appeal to forward-thinking millennials. Additional features that millennials lean towards are fuel efficiency and lowered emissions. This not only saves on fuel expenses, but is also better for the environment. In fact, a growing number of millennials are interested in purchasing electric vehicles as a way to lower their carbon footprint in the long run. The fully electric Nissan LEAF is a great example of a zero-emissions vehicle that is gaining popularity for being reasonably priced and exceptionally efficient. These are the types of cars and technology that the millennial generation could really establish as mainstream going forward.
Overall, millennials are continuing to use online shopping tools and targeted apps to direct their car-buying experience. Through digital media and an abundance of online information, this generation is more informed, empowered, and decisive when it comes to purchasing a vehicle. With this age group now becoming the largest in America, millennials are looking to purchase their own vehicles as they move up in the workforce and start their own families. Car brands that emphasize their online presence and offer genuine information and reviews are much more likely to appeal to this coveted demographic.