Millennial Buyers Say “Give Us Authenticity”

Connect in a meaningful way with this powerful buying demographic

Millennial buyers have spoken, and they are looking for businesses that know them and recognize their needs within a changing marketplace. They’re not buying into marketing that speaks at them or even through them; instead, they are on the lookout for businesses that understand them and are willing to form relationships with them throughout their buying journeys.

In fact, businesses that are not extending themselves and making an effort to connect with millennials in a meaningful way run the risk of irritating a generation with extreme buying power.

You know that frustrating feeling you get when it’s obvious you’re being “sold to,” or given the runaround? Everyone has felt it at one time or another, and unfortunately the car business is notorious for having more than its fair share of cringeworthy stories that fit this bill.

Creating uncomfortable shopper moments is exactly where many dealerships go wrong—but that also means dealerships that want to expand and attract new generations of shoppers have a great opportunity when it comes to growing their customer bases.

Success goes far beyond discovering what consumers want in the marketplace; at this point, it’s really about the experiences shoppers demand. Today’s shoppers demand authenticity, both from dealerships and from the automotive brands that receive their loyalty.

Brand authenticity matters

A case study of Toyota’s discontinuation of the Scion brand goes to show how important branding and messaging are in today’s marketplace—and along with them: authenticity.

Aimed at younger buyers, Scion was Toyota’s attempt at reaching the heart and soul of a consumer group via extreme marketing and, ultimately, was the story of a brand that tried to change its own personality in an awkward attempt to fit in with the cool kids.

Did it work? Nope. The cool kids saw right through it, and instead of selling piles of Scions to college kids and teens, Toyota ended up seating adults in their mid- to upper-thirties behind the wheels of their boxy creations.

The lesson that was learned? A brand can’t simply become something else entirely—and can’t, in turn, pull the wool over an entire generation’s eyes—in order to sell more cars. In the eyes of the younger buyers it was targeting, Toyota’s short-lived experiment lacked authenticity, and it simply didn’t offer the connection they were looking for.

The marketplace will always be fluid, and as it changes, it’s up to dealerships to look for authentic ways of meeting the needs of an increasingly digital and mobile consumer base. Successful dealerships are finding the more they reach out and interact with shoppers before they step onto the car lot, the better their chances are of impacting sales.

There has been a monumental shift in not only the way people are buying, but in who’s buying. Millennials, people born between 1980 and 2000, account for 25% of the U.S. population. Weighing in at a staggering 80 million in number, this is a generation full of digitally savvy consumers who know what they want—and in addition, they’ll call the bluff of businesses who appear inauthentic, unwilling to connect, or that waste their time.

Authenticity wins

For younger generations, one of the most essential elements you can offer is authenticity in your interactions. When you are able to offer meaningful consumer engagement, you’ll gain the trust and business of younger shoppers.

Millennial consumers are especially in tune with online opinions, feedback, and research, and they are accustomed to picking out authentic brands and products from a seemingly endless mix of online offerings. By being yourself, interacting with consumers, and showing a willingness to help and answer their questions, you’ll gain a reputation for being a business that’s genuinely interested in the well-being of its shoppers.

Forget about selling

Just for a minute. Every dealership knows there’s a bottom line, however. Today’s consumers want relationships with you, and when you’re focused on creating meaningful connections, you’ll end up bringing shoppers back time and again. You have the power to make your dealership stand out from the crowd, to convince shoppers you are the dealership that offers the presence, reputation, and authenticity they require when it comes to making a vehicle purchase.

Every dealership can push ads—and every salesperson can push cars—but it takes something more to reach today’s shoppers. By putting your most authentic foot forward, your dealership will benefit from more consumer connections, improved engagement, and a bigger bottom line.

Joey Little serves as director of digital and social engagement for AutoAlert. An expert in customer experience management, he educates automotive professionals at speaking engagements across the country. With results-driven advice and proven industry knowledge, he assists dealerships in reaching their audiences and increasing business via their social platforms.

Joey Little


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