CommentaryJan 5th, 2018

I'm a Millennial: Here's How I Want You to Sell Me a Car


I was born in 1992, and received my first email address at the age of six. I am what is referred to as a millennial. Nowadays, that term often connotes laziness, an obsession with technology and social media, and a short attention span.

This piece is not intended to defend my generation, or to explain why these charges are unfounded or untrue. Instead, I hope to give you, the many dealerships hoping to sell cars to me (and my peers), insights into how we work, and what we’re looking for.

There is good reason to think about how to market to a millennial: We now outnumber baby boomers, and make up a significant portion of car buyers. We’re going to be in the marketplace for a long time, and value relationships with companies. So what do we want? You have to understand: I was raised with the internet. We have developed together, and for my entire life I’ve been exposed to the most advanced version of the web. Because of this, I have high expectations.

Nothing makes me happier than finding a website that provides a fast, convenient, thorough, and customized shopping experience. So here are some tips for how you, a dealership, can effectively sell a car to me, a millennial.

Personalize my experience

For millennials, it’s hard to imagine sifting through troves of unrelated information to find what we’re looking for. I want you to know what I’m looking for, then show it to me. We’ve been spoiled by websites like Amazon and Netflix that always recommend just the right thing.

These services are so successful that 35% of Amazon’s revenue is said to come from recommended products. Your website can give me a similar type of experience. At the very least, it should be clean and intuitive to navigate. At the most, I want you to use artificial intelligence to know what I want without even telling you.

Optimize for mobile

Yes, we use our phones for everything. But don’t assume that every time we take out our phones we’re sending Snapchats or reading Buzzfeed articles — oftentimes, we’re performing real tasks. Three in four millennials utilize their mobile devices to go online at least as often as they use a desktop.

I can order groceries, conduct research, and read reviews of products from my phone, and often do. Your website needs to be as easily navigable on mobile as it is on desktop.

Tell me everything, from the beginning

Because I grew up on the internet, the place where knowledge is stored, I’m relatively self-sufficient. I look to gain as much knowledge as possible, without speaking to a person. A millennial hates calling customer service representatives — one study found that 34% would rather have their teeth cleaned, and 26% would rather go to the DMV than call customer service.

When I visit a dealership website, I want to know all of the specs of a vehicle, reviews on that vehicle, finance and insurance options, directions to your dealership, my trade-in value, and anything else you can tell me from the get-go. I’m definitely more likely to visit your dealership if I feel like I have all of the information I need before I walk in the door.

But . . . don’t lie

If I see an offer on your website and am intrigued enough to call or come into your dealership, it should exist. To me, an online offer is no different than one in-store, and there should be no discrepancies between the two.

If I was given false or old information, I might complain about the experience on your social pages and write a negative review. Reviews are important to us — we are social beings and rely on other people’s recommendations.

In fact, Adweek reports 93% of millennials read online reviews before making a purchase. Don’t hide your reviews, and be sure to promote the good ones. They really do make a difference.

Provide real customer service

Although I appreciate a completely online experience, there are also times that I feel like speaking to a real person. This is especially true when it comes to a purchase as large and expensive as a car. I will try to connect with you through the methods that I’m familiar with.

First, through social media. According to one study, four in five millennials would use social media for customer service, and prefer it over web, chat, or phone. In addition, if you offer a chat or “text us” option on your website, someone should respond quickly. A quick response catches me while I’m still thinking about your dealership, and am more likely to engage with you.

Show me the cool features

Millennials are all about gadgets. We like having our phones, computers, homes, and watches synced together. We use technology to be more efficient and streamline our lives.

That being the case, we’re looking for cars with improved technology and features: 89% of millennials in the U.S. would spend more money on a vehicle with improved software. Don’t shy away from showing me some of the newer models just because they’re a bit more expensive — if it adds to my life, I’ll be willing to pay more for it.

Being a millennial doesn’t mean the same thing for every person, but for many it does mean expecting a personalized, easy, and convenient shopping experience. Your dealership can give us what we want, from our first visit to your website through a purchase. Don’t be intimidated by our smart watches and eco-friendly water bottles — we’re just customers looking for a good buying experience. If your dealership offers it, you can bet we’ll be buying from you.

Penina Rothner is a content marketing writer at AutoLeadStar, a lead-engagement platform for auto dealerships, powered by artificial intelligence. A writer and editor by trade, she closely follows the latest trends in marketing, technology, and customer experience. Penina is always open to industry interviews and reports, so please reach out to collaborate: [email protected].

Authored by

Penina Rothner

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