Ah, the elusive millennials. How to catch them, market to them, sell to them– that is everyone’s goal these days. And with reports on millennials eschewing car ownership for Ubers, rentals, and rideshare options, it seems that in the auto industry, they are hard to catch indeed.

But as it turns out, many millennials are buying cars, especially older millennials. The demographic is just beginning to flex its spending muscle as it grows up, earns more income, and starts families. Even if they don’t own cars now, 80% of millennials plan to within the next few years.

Nevertheless, millennials really do experience shopping, and specifically car shopping, differently from their parents. They have different priorities, goals, and expectations, and the smart dealership will address those.

What sets millennials apart? Much research, including reports by CDK and AutoTrader, leads to a number of conclusions:

  • Reliance on technology. Millennials use their smartphones for everything, from photography to navigation to even– at times– verbal communication. So naturally, they do their consumer research on them, oftentimes while standing on your dealership floor. They also have laptops, desktops, and tablets and using all of them is second-nature.
  • Massive amounts of research. Whether via smartphone, tablet, or laptop, millennials typically do about 17 hours of research before purchasing a new vehicle. This includes significant time reading online reviews, and getting recommendations from friends in person and on social media.
  • Image and values. Far more than their parents, millennials value individual expression. They want to impress others with their taste and style– not only that, but they want the items and brands they choose to reflect their personal beliefs and value systems. They will often even choose items that are more expensive in order to reflect these values, even in the face of very real financial constraints.
  • Personalization. Millennials want the car shopping process to be transparent, convenient, and personalized. They want information to be easily accessible, and they want to feel like their concerns are being addressed.

So what’s the best way for dealerships to break into the millennial market? A few concrete steps will go a long way:

  1. Make sure your website is in top form. With the online research they do and ease they expect, millennials will not take you seriously if your website is lacking in any way. Keep your VDPs up to date and totally consistent with your in-store inventory. Use clean, visually appealing design. And make it easy for people to find what they’re looking for.
  2. Provide content, not just offers. Offers on your website are so important, but remember that millennials want to connect to you and your brand while they’re doing research. Feature helpful content that makes the car buying process easier and more convenient, including explanations of key features, comparisons of different models, checklists for car shoppers, and information on loan approval. Make sure to include lots of photos, and don’t forget the videos.
  3. Sophisticated, personalized targeted content and offers. Equip your website with AutoLeadStar’s technology to track, analyze, and predict website visitor behavior so you can offer them content they want to see, when they want to see it. Everyone wants to feel like the content they see speaks to them; millennials will feel alienated if it doesn’t. Using your website should feel as personalized as a conversation with a salesperson at your dealership.
  4. Optimize everything for mobile. So many millennials use their phones that it is absolutely crucial that you run campaigns for mobile and keep track of your mobile analytics. Your content should look good on a small screen and your offers should be mobile-friendly.
  5. Brand consistency. No matter where your content appears, whether on your site, in ads, on social media, or in marketing materials, your logo, colors, language, and messaging must be consistent. Millennials want understand your brand and values, and they expect to find them wherever you are.
  6. Make your values clear. Speaking of brand and values, they need to be clear. What does your dealership stand for, aside from selling cars, of course? What sets you apart from your competitors? Millennials are looking for brands that speak to them. Make it clear what your dealership is about so like-minded consumers can connect with you.
  7. Be accessible. In person, on the phone, on social media, be sure that someone reaching out to you can reach you. Keep your SEO strong so you’re easily searchable online. When you get a conversion, or a question on Facebook or Twitter, respond immediately. Millennials value relationships, so build them through multiple channels and make it easy to get answers.

If it seems like millennials are more work than your average customer, remember that it’s worth the effort. Because along with their rising purchasing power, millennials’ brand interest makes them loyal to companies they like, and extremely likely to recommend you to their friends if they have a positive experience. So invest in millennials. It will pay off for your dealership.

Want to get started optimizing your dealership website for a millennial-friendly shopping experience? Call us for a free consultation 216-242-1320