I recently upgraded to a minivan for our family of four which was an extremely painful process. My research with millennials confirms that millennials are having the same painful processes over and over again as consumers and, as a group, we continue searching for businesses that will listen and give us what we want.
Is that too much to ask for?
Let me repeat again: the purchasing process was extremely painful.
Yes, it was painful in part due to the fact that I really wanted an SUV, but due to gas mileage, finances and overall value, I selected a perfect 2013 white Toyota Sienna. So what was the problem?
Let me explain.
At one dealership, I was the customer and at another dealership, I was a source of revenue. I do realize that the reality is in both dealerships situations I am both, however, in one dealership I was treated much like I owned my purchase rather than them showing me what they wanted me to buy.
So why is this different for a millennial, do we not all deal with shady used car sales personnel?
Millennials Want a Brand They Can Trust
According to an interview on dealermarketing.com, when considering advertisements to millennials for a car dealership, “(dealerships) can utilize more mobile advertising and be aware that social tools, such as word of mouth and online reputation, are important factors for this generation of buyers.”
This is critical with millennials.
In this particular experience, I narrowed down my search from a white or grey color vehicle. I had looked on multiple classified ads including Craigslist, EBay and local ads to see what was available. The worry I had there was that I didn’t trust doing a deal for a vehicle I couldn’t trust, especially if I was going to take out a loan for it. I wanted comfort that my purchase had been through proper inspections.
So naturally, what did I do? I researched online.
My first stops were the top dealerships. I searched by my zip code on Google for Toyota used cars and then I read their feedback from their customers. Note that I didn’t look at ads from what the company’s said about themselves, I looked at what consumers had said and I searched for the dirt. I wanted to find the negatives rather than the positives (I typically find that positive reviews are usually monetarily endorsed).
Consumers Know What They Want Before They Get to Your Store
“Millennials are changing the game and are employing more of a “you give me and I’ll decide what you get” strategy. In other words, today’s dealers need to be upfront with all information and the millennials will be the ones to choose how to proceed.” Dean Evans, CEO of LotLinx. Inc
I knew what I wanted when I went into both dealerships. I had done research online, I had looked at the Carfax of the vehicles I was interested in, I had researched where the car was purchased, how much it had been serviced, what it was serviced for among many other vital features that were included with this vehicle. To one dealership that was important.
We will call them dealership V, where we ultimately purchased our van. When I requested the vehicle, they grabbed the vehicle immediately, let me load my wife and kids in the vehicle, took a copy of my license and we were off to test drive it. It was the color we wanted since I had done my research online. We took it for a spin, came back to the dealership, gave him our feedback and explained we wanted to check out another dealership. He gave me his card and we were off.
To the other, we will call them dealership x, they could not care less what I wanted to buy, it was what they wanted to sell me.
• They showed me some copper Toyota Sienna’s and some model years that were more new.
• I reaffirmed my price range for Sienna’s and theirs were out of our price range.
• I mentioned if they were not willing to budge on price, let’s not keep talking.
This led to a back and forth banter between the sales associate and his manager and as much as I wanted to be in the love triangle, I ended up leaving. As we were pulling out, the sales associate was running after us.
That was awkward for both of us.
Find Millennial Pain Points and Create a Niche
The dealership we ended up purchasing from has a niche in our market. They focus on three things from what I was able to observe: take care of the customer’s questions, offer the lowest price, and allow them to make a decision on their own. There were no haggle sales tactics involved. The sales associate mentioned that they buy a lot of their cars from rental companies, make sure they pass a 150 point inspection and they pride themselves on offering the best price. This was all brought up by me when I asked questions. Not as a ploy to throw other dealerships under the bus for their tactics, which they very well could have done.
What is it about this dealership that has made them so successful in the area?
• They sell around 400 cars a month because they are great listeners in my opinion
• Their “price match” guarantees that the customer will always feel they have a great deal
• The inspection is completed by certified mechanics giving the millennial the ‘safe’ bet when buying
• They are a 4.2/5 star rating from around 500 reviews from their consumers
• They offer extended warranties
Millennials pain points with car dealerships are that they are too pushy, they are bad for the environment and they are too expensive. In fact, Time clarified the myth on millennials even wanting to buy cars stating that cars are “certainly not as necessary as a smartphone or broadband (for millennials). Indeed, the idea that millennials could possibly not care about owning cars is one that has puzzled automakers”. With companies like Uber and Lyft offering transportation at low rates, some abandon the idea of owning a car completely.
Think of some other brands who have done this recently: Sprint’s IPhone program, Apple’s AppleCare and T-Mobile’s #BingeOn campaign. Each of these programs focuses on a different need of each millennial. One is to have an up-to-date Apple smartphone, the other is the protection against damage from the product and the other answers concerns about going over allotted data. These companies built programs around specific concerns millennials have for products.
One thing is certain, millennials buy things differently. It is important that each brand discovers what entices their consumers and what their niche is in their current market. How are you going to beat your competitors but more so, how do you create a brand that is more relevant with the rising Generation Y and Generation Z customers?