Millennials Car Buyers Divided and the Opportunity for Automotive

October 15, 2019

You probably know that Millennials are the largest car buying group today and also the largest portion of your workforce. They are driving turnover in the industry and adopting technology. What you may not know is they are not a monolithic group. They have some significant differences that spell opportunity for dealerships.

According to a recent study highlighted in AutoNews, the youngest generation including both Gen Z and young millennials appears to shop the highest number of brick-and-mortar dealerships (3.8 stores on average for vs. 2.6 for older millennials, 2.4 for Generation X and 2.1 for baby boomers). That’s an awesome opportunity to show them the positive experience that a dealership can be.

And, according to the 2018 Mintel Car Purchasing Process study, unlike older Millennials who had a higher than average distrust of salespeople, younger Millennials did not consider salespeople untrustworthy at the same high rate and your team will have the best generational opportunity to demonstrate a transparent, positive process that keeps it that way.

In the newest Mintel 2019 Car Purchasing study those differences persist with younger millennials relatively more interested than older Millennials in used cars. Likely driven by financial constraints.

And they are less interested in safety features and technology than the remaining age cohorts, which could make smaller budgets stretch further.

The millennials as a group are undergoing many life stage changes that drive the urgency of car purchase. Younger millennials skew even higher on getting new jobs and getting married. There are likely more parents in the older millennials cohort, driving more interest in safety. Some of these changes between the younger and older cohorts are likely to disappear as they all hit similar life stages.

For now, there is an open door with younger millennials. The lack of distrust may be that they have no exposure to car-buying and their only experience is in the information rich, buyer-friendly process that exists today in industry-leading dealerships. Make an impression with this youngest generation who want to buy a car now. The safest position for any dealership in this changing market is to have a reputation for a trusted, easy and fun buying experience. Benchmark your process against Carvana and CarMax and beat them on total time spent and satisfaction generated. Make your experience so good, especially for this digitally savvy generation that it makes Carvana seem untrusted, inconvenient and unnecessary.

Note: Mintel defines Younger Millennials as Millennials born between 1987 and 1994. In 2019, Younger Millennials are between the ages of 25 and 32. And Older Millennials as Millennials born between 1977 and 1986. In 2019, Older Millennials are between the ages of 33 and 42.