Think back to the most important retail moments of the last 50 years. What would you put on your list of the top ten?
The Great Recession of 2007 would surely make it, and perhaps the introduction of SUVs, along with other models. Most likely, the emergence of the Internet would be right at the top – along with the major technological advances (mobile, Wi-Fi, etc.) of the past two decades.
You should also add Millennials to that list.
Why? Because as technology has enabled consumers, these young car buyers – this first true “digital native generation” – are using it to drive change throughout the retail industry.
What Makes Millennials So Special?
Millennials are the biggest group to come around since Baby Boomers. The Pew Research Center estimates that there are 75.4 million people identified as Millennials,* and other experts put that number even higher. It’s a large group, and they have a strong digital bias that translates into key changes in their consumer behavior. Changes like broader consideration sets, for example, and an extended time shopping online for just the right car (127 days, on average, with 64% of that time spent online).** This type of shift in activity arguably creates differing perceptions and expectations at the showroom. So if you’re reading this and you’re a sales manager or GM, it would be very wise to make sure your digital showroom (aka your website) is as optimized and engaging as your physical showroom.
Online and In-Store Reality
The bottom line is that Millennials want to use mobile and digital means to make car shopping fast, simple and friendly. They seem to be most comfortable when technology is at their fingertips, and while the concept of online shopping and in-store deal making may predate them, they’re among the first to insist on it as the default process.
Now add to that preference a low tolerance for idle time: Cox Automotive’s 2017 Car Buyer Journey found that Millennials are the first generation to break the three-hour time barrier – a trend that reflects their overwhelming desire to shorten the time spent doing the deal. More specifically, 51% cite negotiations and F&I as their top pain point, primarily because the process takes around an hour or more to complete.***
With Millennials, a key step is in adjusting your approach to match up with the way they use technology. That means a more flexible and consultative experience, one that leverages mobile technology, is personalized, and welcomes up-front research. It’s not rocket science to figure out that the dealership team that leverages technology to create that kind of experience will reap the benefits.
About Jason Barrie
Jason loves cars. So why not work in the greatest industry in the country: Automotive! Jason has over 12 years of auto experience between Dealertrack and Cox Automotive. Since 2005, Jason has helped drive the company’s growth from a credit application portal to an enabler of sales and F&I dealership workflow. Barrie is responsible for product operations, partner relations and market analytics for VinSolutions and Dealertrack’s F&I solutions. Barrie joined Dealertrack from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield where he served on their product marketing and eCommerce teams.
Barrie started his career in 1997 at Miller Shandwick Technologies, a leading public relations firm, where he worked with industry leaders such as Compaq and Dun and Bradstreet. Barrie earned his Bachelor of Arts in Communications, Public Relations, from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He resides in Long Island with his beautiful wife and two daughters. Read more about Jason Barrie.
* Pew Research Center. 2016. Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation
** Cox Automotive. 2017. 2017 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey
*** Cox Automotive. 2016. 2016 Cox Automotive Emotional Connections Study