In the ever-changing automotive world, we are faced with the constant evolution of both expectations and demands in all forms of commerce. And while we can adapt accordingly, the expectation of any business to straddle the various generational gaps makes it necessary to adjust our business model and marketing initiatives to operate on a number of levels. And by diversifying your marketing spend in a prudent manner, you can expect the best possible return on your investment.
In terms of generations, there are still a number of Traditionals (born through 1945) that are still buying cars every day. While this particular group is diminishing with each passing year, it is still a viable customer base as of 2018. Courting their hard-earned buying dollar requires the use of traditional marketing platforms, which offer little return in terms of reaching younger buyers. As such a multi-platform strategy is required because if we view the Traditionalist demographic as one of two bookends, our marketing must also be representative of its polar opposite: Generation Z.
These consumers (born 2000 and afterward) are now entering the consumer marketplace, propelled by an entirely different mindset. Having grown up in a technology-driven society, Gen-Z’ers come with a built-in expectation of immediate gratification. As with their senior citizen counterparts, reaching this audience requires an innate understanding of the platforms that make them most accessible, and engaged.
As a dealership, the question you need to ask yourself is whether you, not your marketing strategy incorporates a well-realized multi-platform strategy, designed to reach all prospective car buyers. And in terms of the ever-increasing digital demands of today’s consumers, you need to ask yourself if you are working with the right Digital Marketing partner. Why? Because any attempt to maintain staff, dedicated to each of these demographics, does nothing but increase your overhead, placing added burden of expectation upon your in-house staff.
With that burden in mind, let’s take a look at how generational diversity can prove challenging, and why enlisting a trusted Digital Marketing partner could be your best possible decision.
Changes in Technology
As of 2018, it is estimated that approximately 36% of the world’s population utilizes smartphone technology. While this may seem like a minority share of the populace, that percentage equates to around 2.5 billion users (an increase of nearly half-a-billion since 2016). That proves a powerful statement when you recognize what it means in terms of customer accessibility, especially since that number will court 2.9 billion by the year 2020.
Considering that the youngest Traditional will be 75 by 2020, it’s easy to recognizing the diminishing need for transitioning marketing. However, the youngest Baby Boomer will only be in their mid-50’s by that point. Still the second largest generation, the Boomers represent a huge revenue target for any business. And, much like their predecessors, Baby Boomers still rely on traditional marketing platforms such as print and radio ads, as well as television spots on local network affiliates. That said, they are a generation with a slow-yet-steady gravitation towards both smartphone and social media use. If we estimate that most people purchase vehicles into their mid-70’s, this means that the next twenty years will still require a mixed, multi-platform approach in order to maximize sales.
But what platforms can we expect to grow in prevalence in that time-frame? In all fairness, some may not even exist at this point. However, the Baby Boomers provide a perfect segue into the power of digital and social media marketing, as well as the importance of SEO and online reputation management.
For Gen-X (born through the early-80’s) we see the most versatile of any demographic. Raised in an analog world, they have witnessed the integration of digital technology and have willingly adapted, with a foot firmly planted in each arena. Just as comfortably Google-ing information as they were sifting through the hardcopy encyclopedias, this generation will hold buying power for nearly four more decades.
That said, it is unlikely that Gen-X’ers will be as resistant to technology as their parents have been. The simple convenience that it provides makes it a favorable tool, to be used, albeit rarely relied upon. A Gen-X consumer is likely to research a purchase thoroughly before pulling the proverbial trigger. They will comparison shop. They will read consumer reviews. They will trust their own senses and instincts, over anything they read.
Catering to this generation of car buyers requires a helpful and comprehensive online presence, but also requires quality products, well-informed service, and a customer-centric buying experience.
Ah, the oft-criticized (and just as often mis-defined) Millennial. Born between the early-80’s and 1996, this generation (along with the so-called ‘Post-Millennial’ subsection born through 1998) is far more connected to technology than any of their predecessors were. In fact, the of Millennials had experienced adolescence in a fully-connective world (all of which has been accounted for on Social Media).
For them, a mobile phone is far more than an accessory; it is an extension of their person, tethering them to the world as they have chosen to define it. They represent a decrease in attention span (estimated to have dropped from 12 to 8 seconds) with approximately 75% claiming that they default to their cellphone and social media when nothing else has stimulated them. Most interestingly, this is the generation most active in (and influenced by) online reviews, but will rarely travel beyond the first page of any search results.
Facebook (the platform favored by Gen-X and Baby Boomers) is still used by Millennials, although Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat gain more of their attention. Emails are also used, but redundancy and SPAM tactics have diminished its reputation in their mind.
The largest generation in terms of population, Millennials will be your primary demographic for the next five decades or more. Catering to them requires thoughtful and well-designed digital marketing, which is best facilitated by a skilled partner, trained in all areas of digital, social and reputation management.