How to Turn Millennial Car Shoppers into Car Buyers for Your Dealership

How to Turn Millennial Car Shoppers into Car Buyers for Your Dealership

More and more millennials are in the market for cars, and dealerships must take notice and make millennial outreach a priority.  The generation of Americans born between 1980 and 1995 are leading a change in purchase behaviors and trends. Growing up in a digitally-connected world, millennials are savvy shoppers who comparison shop on mobile, head to social media for advice, and expect an informative and interactive experience with a brand’s website.

However, a survey by Borrell Associates and Netsertive showed that only 20% of dealerships said their co-op programs offered marketing support for reaching millennials and one in four dealerships haven’t configured their primary lead-generation tool (their own websites) to “speak” to millennials on their own terms (mobile media).

Estimates indicate that this segment now accounts for 25% of the new-vehicle market and this number is growing. According to research by TrueCar, Millennials purchased 4.24 million vehicles last year, generating $135 billion in revenue. If your dealership plans to engage this demographic, it’s time to start adjusting the way you speak to them.

Mobile First

Millennials are the first mobile generation and 87% have their phones by their side at every second of the day. According to a Placed, Inc. study, millennial shoppers are more likely to use mobile devices for research — and conduct research on multiple device types — than older generations. 65% use a smartphone to research prior to visiting a dealership, compared with 53% of those 35 and older. 85% of Millennials use the Internet for vehicle shopping, and they use more digital sources of information than shoppers 35 and older.

Mobile can’t be an afterthought, but rather must be at the forefront of every marketing strategy. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Mobile usage is a significant part of the purchase journey for all consumers, millennials included.  90% of people report moving between devices, or “multi-screening”, to accomplish a task. Emails, landing pages, and website must all be mobile-optimized. If a website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, 40% of visitors will head elsewhere.  By taking the time to create an enjoyable and consistent mobile experience, this generation will stick around longer to engage and interact with your dealership.
  • Social media is one of the primary activities that millennials engage in when on their mobile devices. However, simply having a presence on the latest social networks isn’t going to cut it. Socially driven engagement strategies play a big role in securing millennial loyalty. According to a study by CrowdTwist, 43.5% of millennials said they use social media to spread the word about products or services, which in turn influences their social peers. Social media marketing is evolving into social mobile marketing.

To succeed, dealerships must have an active social presence, both engaging in conversations and creating content that millennials will share with their networks. Millennial shoppers are also particularly willing and enjoy sharing content with their friends and social networks through mobile. Millennials will be particularly inclined to share engaging or visual types of content – pictures, videos, contests, and anything that shows your dealership’s personal side and trust-worthiness.

Millennials Are More Brand Loyal Than You May Think

Despite what we have heard, millennials tend to very brand loyal. In fact, a study byAdroit Digital indicate that this generation believe they’re as — if not more — brand loyal than their parents. However, brands will have to work harder at earning this loyalty by providing exceptional and genuine experiences.

This loyalty can mean long-term revenue for your dealership in both repeat purchases and as service revenue. Ongoing service and maintenance is an important consideration for millennials during the car buying process. According to research byGFK Service Intender, 29 million millennials have had a qualifying vehicle repair in past 12 months.  Millennials currently represent 25% of all consumers getting vehicle repair or service. Although millennials are more likely to use independents and chains, they are open to considering dealers, and 70% say they are willing to pay more for quality vehicle maintenance/service.

Also notable is that a study by Elite Daily found that only 1% of millennials say they are influenced in any way by advertising. What does work is authenticity and genuine connections. Whether the encounter occurs in the store, online, or through another channel, millennials are more apt to be loyal to those dealerships that personalize interactions, and take the extra time to add the personal touch to every experience.

What constitutes an authentic, personalized experience is subjective, but millennials are particularly interested in social connections. Just as social interactions are a huge part of the mobile experience, social media also drives brand loyalty. Elite Daily found that 62 percent of Millennials are more loyal to brands that engage directly with customers on social media. Similarly, the CrowdTwist study found that nearly 50 percent of respondents wanted socially conscious benefits like charitable giving or one-of-a-kind rewards and experiences as a result of brand interactions.

Additional Insights into Connecting with Millennial Car Shoppers

J.D. Power recently released the “Millennials Insight Report: The Customer Experience Perspective.” According to the report’s findings, the following points reveal additional ways to establish connections with this generation:

  • Customer Service is Critical to Millennial Loyalty: Millennials have the lowest tolerance for errors and delays of any other generation studied—they simply expect things to work. However, when there is a problem and it is resolved fully, Millennials are substantially more likely than Boomers to reuse a product or service.
  • Value for Money Is King: The secret to millennial satisfaction? It’s value for money. Unlike other generations that tend to buy things for status, image or brand loyalty, Millennials are most likely to make a purchase decision based on value for money—across virtually every product category.
  • Privacy—What’s in it for Me?: Millennials are less concerned than other generations about privacy.  They accept the erosion of privacy as inevitable and are generally willing to have their information collected if it comes with benefits in the form of targeted offers and personalized services.

More so than any other generation, millennials have disrupted traditional means of retailing. Dealerships must shift focus to embrace and implement strategies to which they are most apt to respond – and take the leap forward into turning millennial car shoppers into car buyers for your dealership.

To learn how to target today’s auto consumers with data-driven marketing strategies, download this free Automotive Marketing Guide for dealerships.

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