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What Do The Millennials Want

Millennials are a new breed and want new things. Car company bosses and media types are obsessed with these children of baby boomers born between the early 1980s and 2000, or so. And with good reason.

A new Deloitte study found that the typical millennial car buyer cares three times more about the customer and buying experience than the actual design of the car. Old school boomers who grew up embracing a love affair with cars will collectively cringe at this.

Pat Ryan Jr. and Patrick McMullen of the retail consultancy MAX Digital write millennials “are a generation that is more into technology than cars – there just aren’t a lot of ‘car guys’ and ‘car gals’ in this age group.

“Because millennials aren’t that into cars and haven’t necessarily been dreaming of buying that particular car anyway, their focus is instead on the buying process, which puts tremendous pressure on dealers to rebuild their process around this emerging majority of car buyers,” they argue in a research note.

The consultants point to how the baby boom echo generation, or Generation Y, have been raised – “buying products on Amazon and music on iTunes” which has trained them to expect “a streamlined, fact-based, convenient (buying) process, and find the idea of the stereotypical car buying experience repelling.”

Some – perhaps their Baby Boomer parents – might have the temerity to suggest millennials are petulant, impatient and spoiled. It’s clear boomers, their parents and their Gen Y kids all want the same things when shopping for a new ride: a high quality, convenient experience.

Ryan and McMullen suggest dealers learn to speak the language of millennials, in the showroom, on the web and in advertising. Strip out all that “car guy talk” in ads, and replace it with objective “evidence” gathered from across the web “to build value in each car and trust in your dealership.”

Match the focus on objective evidence with a sales staff who are product experts, “practiced and certified in the walk-around for each model.” The “deal” should be easy to conclude with a minimum of negotiation, they add, noting 65 per cent of millennials don’t want to dicker with a salesperson.

Finally, these young buyers embrace technology and so should every dealer and salesperson. Get over the fact that millennials are pulling out their mobile phones in the showroom.

“It is naïve to think that they won’t use the computer in their pocket to help them level the playing the field when spending tens of thousands of dollars,” they argue.

The obvious conclusion: if you are a millennial looking for a deal, you’ll be happiest at a retailer staffed a well-informed professional sales staff who embrace technology, recognize that today’s shopper has done plenty of pricing and product research, and who back up their recommendations with strong evidence.  Will millennials change the industry forever?

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