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Headlines about Millennials are nearly all doom and gloom. Millennials killed malls. Millennials killed television. Millennials don’t want jobs, don’t want to move out of their parents’ house, and don’t vote. Oh, and Millennials don’t buy cars. They prefer to Uber around, or ride-share, and they all work in jobs that aren’t traditional office jobs and Millennials just walk up to the coffee shop and work. Millennials take electric scooters to get places.

Don’t believe the hype.

The single largest population segment is Millennials. The exact age range varies by researcher, but we’ll use this list:

  • Baby Boomer  –  Born 1946 to 1964, currently 54-72 years old
  • Gen X – Born 1965 to 1979, currently 39-53 years old
  • Millennials – Born 1980 to 2000, currently 18-38 years old
  • Yet-To-Be-Labeled – Born 2001 to 2018, currently 0-17 years old

Professor Mike Bernacchi at the University of Detroit Mercy recently appeared on Autoline, and he actually analyzed data, instead of generalizing. He found that, in fact, through the first 9 months of 2018, it was Millennials driving new vehicle sales.

Are you suspicious because your nephew, a Millennial, just graduated college and takes his mountain bike to his digital marketing job?

According to Bernacchi, Millennials believe the same things about cars that have always driven sales and brand choices. They believe:

  1.  A car is a necessity
  2.  Your car choice enhances your image
  3.  Research is important so you get the best quality car for your money

The major difference between Millennials shopping for cars, from that of previous generations is that Boomers and Gen X, are from the era where they would go to 4 or 5 dealerships to drive a car and draw their own conclusions, and then buy a car. Millennials will do their shopping online.

Q: How many dealerships will Millennials visit before making a car purchase?

A: One. And that one dealership is usually the closest to where they live.

Q: What percentage of car buyers are Millennials?

A: 30% (and by 2020 they will be 40% of all car buyers)

Q: How many Millennials own cars?

A: 75%!!!  Three quarters of the largest population segment own cars.

Q: What can you conclude?

A: You better get-to-know Millennials and have a marketing and advertising strategy designed around them.

How are automotive brands attracting Millennials? The most successful brands are marketing vehicles as fun-to-drive and showing off their integrated entertainment technology. Technology is very important to Millennials.

Mike Martinez (Automotive News) points out that Ford had success when they showed their Fiesta ST and Focus RS were “fun to drive” and were able to sell them to 30-37 year olds. We also know small and mid-size SUVs are more popular than midsize cars and sedans, and we know that half of all Millennials are over 28-years-old, are getting married, having kids, and need cars, now, for the same things older car-buying generations needed, except with the major difference being how they shop for their cars.

Auto manufacturers are creating vehicles full of technology and marketing them nationally (and globally) as “fun.” Dealerships and Dealer Groups would be wise to follow this messaging and learn how to connect with Millennials in a fun, online way to show the car buying experience can be as fun as the car itself, and do so in an honest and authentic way.

Millennials are buying the most cars. Are you talking to Millennials? Make sure your advertising and media partners are.