In the early part of this decade, automakers were concerned that Millennials weren’t buying cars and (more worrisome to them) they may never be interested buying cars. New data out of the US shows that they were interested in new wheels…just later than their parents did. “According to J.D. Power’s Power Information Network, which defines millennials as those between 21 and 38 in 2015, Millennials’ share of the new car market jumped to 28 percent. In the country’s biggest car market, California, Millennials outpaced boomers for the first time.” So does that mean back to normal for automakers and their marketing teams?
Delaying the purchase of a new car not only means that each customer buys fewer cars during their lifetime, it changes the lifetime approach and emotional attachment that Millennials will have to their car. For baby boomers and older GenX, the car symbolized freedom, escape from parents, a coming of age rite of passage. For Millenials, freedom and coming of age identity come with their cell phone and Wi-Fi connection. The car has become less aspirational and more utilitarian. Urban dwellers can rely on Uber, Zipcar, and public transit but when a millennial couple wants to have kids, they move to the suburbs and look at practical considerations when buying their vehicle.
A Cox automotive report found that when it comes to cars, Millennials are looking for:
- Seamless integration with their smartphones
- Do a lot of the things their smartphones can do
- Autonomous (i.e. self-driving) features
That last point is most telling for marketers. Millennials care more about the ride than the drive.