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How Your Dealership Can Harness Millennial Buying Power

How Your Dealership Can Harness Millennial Buying Power
Madeleine Coe

At this point, every business owner who uses marketing, no matter what industry, is well aware of the millennial demographic, what they represent, and what their needs are as consumers. If not, where have you been the last decade as the world speculated on the rise of the millennial generation? As the older millennials are now reaching maturity (ages 18-35) as automotive consumers, they bring with them a serious financial power. In August 2014, Automotive News reported that, for the first time, millennials had surpassed previous generations in the purchase of new vehicles.

So, how do you make sure that their financial power is being exercised at your dealership?

You have to cater to an audience that essentially wants the same things as their predecessors, but delivered in a way that appeals to them. Attributes that millennials value when it comes to buying vehicles: convenience, cost-effectiveness, and honest conversation.

Isabelle Helms,’s senior director of research and marketing analytics, explains what Millennials want from a visit to the dealership.

“[Millennials are] looking for experts to help answer their questions, and to touch and test out the physical car before making a purchase,” Helms said. “That said, Millennials want time and space to make the right decision, and will value the salespeople who provide the information they seek in a no-pressure way.”

So, what can you do to bring them in?

Be honest. Be aware of their consumer buying habits. The number one lesson you will need to learn is that aggressive sales tactics are not the answer. If your salesperson comes on strong with the “sales” language, a millennial customer is going to see it from a mile away and get annoyed or feel bullied. A millennial customer wants to have an honest conversation about the practical value of certain makes or models over competitive vehicles. They are concerned about long-term practicality of the vehicles, especially if they are buying new, and they will do research and price comparisons before coming to your dealership.

Cost. Beyond the cost of the vehicle, there is also the cost of maintenance. Loyalty programs for vehicle maintenance and servicing could be a big draw to this crowd. Since many millennials came into adulthood right as the economy crashed, they are frugal and even though they now may have more money and buying power in the market, they’ve been socially conditioned to spend it wisely.

Convenience. Make sure your website is up to date with online searches and build-a-vehicle functions. Contact information and hours should be clear. Make it easy for a millennial customer to schedule an appointment or drop in to view vehicles in person.

Where do you target this specific audience?

So, where can you grab a millennial’s attention with your advertising? Social media. At the very least, your dealership marketing should be utilizing Facebook and Twitter to spread the word, but maybe also Instagram or Pinterest. If they love cars or are looking to buy a car, there will be evidence of it on the web.

Web video is also a great placement for targeted ad videos. Network television consumption has gone down in recent years due to the expansion of online viewing options. Why would a young person with an active social life stick to the primetime viewing schedule when they can catch up to their favorite shows or binge-watch at their leisure using sites like Hulu or Netflix? Statistics show the shift to online video consumption, so it might be time to shift your ads to where your audience is.

Now that you are catering to the buying power of the millennial generation, remember that their value is not just a one-off transaction or even as a return customer; these customers are valuable because of their social reach. Earning the loyalty of a millennial is particularly useful to your dealership since it means brand advocacy. If they love or hate their experience, they are sure to post it online, and word of mouth is a very valuable tool.

USA Today

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