A Multi-Generational View of Car Buying Behavior: Millenials

A Multi-Generational View of Car Buying Behavior: Millenials

Part III: Generation Y, a.k.a.: Millennials Strength in Numbers, Social to a Fault

In part three of our series comparing generational shopping behavior, we’ll be looking at the much-discussed Millennials, or Generation Y. To read up about Baby Boomers or Generation X, you can click here. Having this information at your disposal will give you an upper hand in making sure that your marketing techniques are working to attract the right car buyers.

We have all read tons of articles describing Generation Y, which encapsulates the people born between 1981-2001. No matter what you think of their causes, they are the biggest generation after the Baby Boomers. That translates into $1.3 trillion in spending power worldwide, and $200 million in the U.S. alone. With that kind of influence, it’s no wonder that they are well-aware of their ability to create change in their communities. But what ties them all together?

Online and Available

Probably the most common complaint everyone hears about this generation is that they are glued to their smartphones, tablets, and laptops. While other generations are just as addicted to the web, these young adults have turned reading and writing online into a way of life. That means that every product or service they are even remotely interested in is researched first. In other words, if you’re selling a lemon, they’ll probably catch it. This is also the group that is more likely to use their mobile device to make a purchase.

A Social Media Conversation

Social media platforms, from Twitter to LinkedIn, strongly influence Gen Y’s opinions and purchases. A 2012 survey discovered that 68% of people are more likely to purchase a product that a peer shared, and 82% rely on word of mouth and social media for product recommendations. In addition, they respond more favorably to conversational-style marketing, rather than “classic” pitching. The millions that saw Facebook go from a social network to an advertising platform have become weary of aggressive broadcasting.

Spending Money Wisely

Unlike their parents and grandparents, Millennials care more about cost than being brand loyal. This does not mean they don’t spend their money. Rather, they are aware of their limited income and the rise of prices, making them careful about what they spend it on, not how much they spend. That is why they spend months researching cars, trucks, and SUVs before visiting a dealership: to make sure they’re buying the right vehicle for the right price under the right conditions.


Gen Y is more self-expressive, liberal, racially and ethnically diverse, optimistic, social, collaborative, and better educated (formally and informally) than any generation preceding it. Translation: they know their stuff and stick to their values. That is why having a social conversation and appealing to their causes and diversity is how to attract their attention. For example, these are the people who are more likely to buy a hybrid or EV car than any other group, if they can afford it, because of raised awareness of environmental issues.

Chances are, you have a vendor who is trying to attract as many Millennials as possible. The question is, though, how are they doing that? If they’re posting pictures with hashtags on your social media on a daily basis, that’s probably not enough. Or they might be using a cost-per-click (CPC) campaign to promise extremely low rates for people with little or no credit. That’s not quite right either because to hone in on a particular population, marketing strategies need to focus on both geography and behavior. If you’re not sure how any program can do that, well, you haven’t heard about DealerLeads. Pick up the phone or shoot us an email to discover how we can bring you quality traffic, first-generation leads, and an incredible ROI that is customized for your location and brand.