How to Target Millennial Customers, the Generation of Now

In 2016, they accounted for 29% of new car sales, a number expected to increase to 40% in 2020

Millennials have been talked about for over a decade as the next big disruptor to both the economy and how industries do business. But those individuals who are still telling us to get ready for millennials are a bit late to the game, because millennials are now the largest group of consumers in the country.


As of 2016, there were 75.4 million millennials, surpassing the baby boomer generation, which numbered at 74.9 million. Millennials now range in age from 20 to 36, so there is plenty of purchasing power from this generation in every industry—including cars.

Contrary to popular belief, millennial customers buy a lot of cars. In 2016, they accounted for 29% of new car sales, and that number is expected to increase to 40% in 2020. They also made up 36% of the lending market in 2016, a number also expected to grow.

As a dealer, if you are a bit behind in your efforts to sell to millennial customers, now is the time to jump in and figure out a strategy.

For starters, millennial customers are different. They do not do things the same way older generations did.

This includes what they prioritize when buying a car. Most millennials set budgets before looking at vehicles, and almost half look at used vehicles in addition to new ones.

Millennial customers spend a lot of time in the market: an average of 127 days, and 64% of their time in the market is spent online. Their time spent at the dealership is about three hours.

Their greatest frustrations involve the deal-making process, and the amount of dead time spent at the dealership.

So what does this mean for you as a dealer? It means that you need to be prepared and organized for your millennial customers. Your online presence needs to be as good as, if not better than, your dealership presence.

If your millennial customer provides you with information online, be sure to have that information registered and ready to go when they come to the dealership.

Finally, expedite and improve your efficiency process. Improving the process will make millennials happier, and encourage them to purchase a new car more often.

Millennials are no longer your future customers. They are your “here and now customers,” and are changing the car-buying process. It’s time to market to them.

Steve Lind is the General Manager of Autotrader.

Steve Lind

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