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The Truth About Millennials

Posted by Hilary Biggart Wednesday, August 03, 2016

You hear their name all the time. They’re on the news, in the magazines, plastered all over the internet: millennials. The up-and-coming generation everyone is talking about. But how much of the hype should you actually believe? How is this generation really different? And most importantly, how do you connect with them and make them loyal to your business?

These are exactly the kind of questions we addressed through our Automotive News webinar yesterday. (If you missed it, you can still check it out here.) A couple of our very own millennial staff members gave some answers on what this generation actually thinks and how businesses can use millennial preferences to their advantage. If you can’t watch the webinar, don’t worry, we’ll be giving you the essentials every week throughout August.

Before we can get into how to appeal to your millennial customers, we first need to know how many of the rumors are true. Who are the millennials, really?

The basics.

Millennials, also called Generation Y, were born between 1982 and 2002. The youngest members of this generation are in high school now, and the oldest are already part of your customer base. Millennials are the largest, most diverse generation in the U.S. right now, and as such, they demand your attention.

What the media says.

Most of what the media says about millennials is negative. You’ve probably heard phrases like “entitled, narcissistic, lazy, and ignorant.” You’ve heard that everyone got a trophy when they were young, that they still with their parents, that they refuse to grow up, and that technology has stunted their ability to participate in face-to-face interactions.

The media also says millennials are not loyal. They don’t care about staying with one particular job or brand or even person. If true, millennials’ lack of loyalty could seriously affect customer retention rates and subsequently business success.

What millennials say.

Millennials themselves refute many of the media’s negative portrayals. They prefer to remind older generations that the economy is different now; college and the cost of living are more expensive, and they’re swamped with much more student debt than their parents. Many millennials also began their careers at the height of the recession, which affected their ability to get started in their chosen field and progress appropriately.

It is true that technology is hugely important to the millennial population, which makes sense considering they grew up with it. This is the first generation who has had personal computers in the home for as long as they can remember. This generation came of age at the same time as smartphones, and high-speed internet has been around for most of their lives. If their interactions are tech-fueled, it’s because their entire lives have been.

While millennials are less attached to their vehicles than perhaps their parents or grandparents, contrary to media coverage, they are still buying cars. However, they got a late start, due to the recession and high student loan debts. Millennials’ claim 28% of the car market as of 2015.

Many members of this generation also say they’re perfectly capable of brand loyalty. However, traditional advertising and big brand recognition aren’t always going to catch their attention. They demand a different kind of interaction with the businesses around them: one based on customer experience, not just friendly service.

What the stats say.

Millennials are going to be hugely important for your business, if they aren’t already. 60% of this generation are employed full-time (remember many of them are still teenagers,) and their average median income is $46,480. This generation is estimated to spend $200 billion annually by 2017.

The bad news is, you’re missing out on a slew of millennial customers. In an internal survey, we found less than half of millennials had had services performed at the same dealership where they purchased their vehicle. And we already know service retention rates drop off sharply after the first, second, and third visits.

So the big question for you and your business is how to connect with this generation and keep them coming back to your shop. And that’s exactly what we’re going to cover the rest of this month. Tune in next week to learn what kind of experience millennials demand from their favorite businesses, and how the market is fighting to fill their needs. 

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