What dealers and automakers must know to meet the challenge of millennials

Photo: imediaconnection.com

Photo: imediaconnection.com

Millennial customers present the auto industry with a significant challenge.

They reportedly are more enthusiastic about ridesharing services such as Uber and public transportation than owning a vehicle. They mistrust traditional financial services and traditional media.

And they are saddled with student loan debt that makes borrowing difficult.

Because they are the largest generation ever – 79 million versus 76 million baby boomers – it is important to automakers and dealers, alike, that many are interested in buying or leasing vehicles.

A reported 71 percent of millennials are interested in owning cars and 43 percent are either “very likely” or “completely likely” to purchase a car in the next five years, according to a January study by Elite Daily, which bills itself as “the premier online news platform by and for millennials.”

So, given that millennials eventually will come around, what does the auto industry need to know?

Millennials diverge significantly from older buyers in how they borrow money, pay for purchases and communicate with brands, according to a study by Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO).

Millennials are ten times as likely as those over 50 to consider a peer-to-peer lender such as Lending Club or Funding Circle. The numbers are low – 23 percent of millennials – but they are growing rapidly.

This level of comfort with alternative lenders could mean consumers are more likely to explore alternate avenues to buy vehicles online from peer-to-peer car selling marketplace such as Beepi, one of a growing number of sites that brings social media interaction into retail. An approach like this may work with millennials because social media communication is ingrained in their experience.

Millennials also are more likely to pay for products and services by alternative means, with 52 percent saying they use or are very likely to use services such as PayPal, Amazon Payments or Venmo. Millennials like these services because they are transparent, low-friction, and simple, according to the FICO survey. Significantly, they also are available on mobile devices.

And a third of millennials use or are very likely to use mobile payment systems such as Apple Pay or Google Wallet, so payment options with an emphasis on mobile devices are important.

FICO, which surveyed more than a thousand millennials, learned that they prefer communicating by email, text messages, website forms and mobile apps in that order. Over 60 percent say they are more likely to become loyal customers if a company engages with them on social media.

The time apparently will come for millennials to get vehicles, so dealers will have to be able to conduct interactions and transactions in ways that makes that generation feel most at home.

– Philip Ryan

Posted in News, Selling

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