Your Guide to Marketing Your Dealership to Millennials and Gen Z

Spanning a wide age range, from four to 40 years old, Millennials and Gen Z together are becoming one of the most influential purchasing powers globally. In fact, combined, Millennials and Gen Z have around $350 billion of spending power in the United States alone.

With Millennials and Gen Z quickly becoming the prominent buying force, dealerships need to rethink their marketing strategies to meet the demands of these younger generations. Many of the tactics that have worked to reach Boomers and Gen X may no longer provide the same return when used to reach these digital-first generations.

If your dealership is looking to increase your reach among Millennials and Gen Z, you’ll need to start your strategy with an understanding of this audience’s preferences. From here, you can design a marketing campaign that converts these leads into long-term, loyal customers.

Understanding the Preferences of Millennials and Gen Z

While Millennials and Gen Z fall into two distinct generations, each with its unique purchasing preferences, these two generations have more in common than not.

Millennials have long led the way with digital-savvy shopping preferences, and Gen Z only continues this trend. Think about it like this — for Millennials, most of their lives have included access to the internet, and for Gen Z, they literally never knew a world without it. This has shaped their purchasing preferences immensely.

It’s not a question of whether they will use digital channels for shopping; it’s a question of how to reach them online in the best way.

One interesting trend among these younger generations is their use of social media for shopping. In a study conducted by TotalRetail, 58 percent of Gen Z respondents and 45 percent of Millennials use social media to make purchases, with Instagram being the top choice for social purchases.

Beyond just their proclivity for digital purchasing, Millennials and Gen Z show a strong preference for brands that are willing to be honest and transparent about their environmental and social stances.

The same report by TotalRetail found that 81.7 percent of Gen Z and 75.5 percent of Millennials favor brands that promote environmental sustainability. Additionally, 78 percent of both groups want companies to take a pro-diversity stance. And consumers from both generations said that they would forgo a purchase if the company selling the product didn’t promote their values.

For dealerships, these facts are critical to laying the foundation for a meaningful online presence.

Practical Tips for Building an Online Presence That Reaches These Generations

If your dealership wants to influence Millennials and Gen Z into becoming loyal customers, it will first require an investment in a quality online presence. Using the buying preferences outlined above, the following practical tips can help increase your reach among these generations:

1. Be Present on Every Digital Channel

Reaching Millennials and Gen Z requires a strong digital presence. It is no longer enough to launch a website and send out an email here or there. Instead, to reach these digital-first generations, you need to be present across the web.

Make sure to:

  • Build a quality website with a digital showroom. Millennials and Gen Z have high expectations and will quickly be turned off by low-quality images, a website that is difficult to navigate, or a lack of information available online.
  • Claim your Google My Business listing, and keep it up to date with relevant information. What brands show in an organic search and what reviews a business has online immensely influence these two generations.
  • Join every social media channel possible, including Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and TikTok. These two generations are extremely active on social media and are open to researching and even completing purchases via social media.
  • Don’t forgo email marketing just yet. While Millennials and Gen Z have a strong preference for social media channels over email, that doesn’t mean they aren’t checking their inboxes. In fact, 58 percent of Genz Z check their email more than once a day, and around 75 percent of Millennials do so as well. The key is to use your email marketing wisely. These generations are more likely to ignore gimmicky emails in favor of communications they find meaningful or that offer value-add.

2. Keep It Real

If there is one thing that Millennials and Gen Z hate more than anything, it is dealing with a brand that they feel is dishonest or fake. In fact, 90 percent of Millennials and Gen Z list honest information about products as a top factor in making purchasing decisions, and 58 percent of both groups state that they would trust brands more if they shared their challenges publicly and even shared the fact that they are a work in progress when it comes to difficult issues.

For these groups, it’s not about perfection. It’s about authenticity.

Rather than using flashy marketing tactics of old, dealerships need to dig deep into their brand identity to reach these generations. Whether it is taking a stance on a social issue in your local community or releasing transparent reporting around your carbon footprint, Millennials and Gen Z want to hear from you about difficult topics, and they are not impressed by slanted or wishy-washy takes.

3. Build Your Library of Videos

According to recent data, Millennials and Gen Z now watch more than one hour of videos per day on social media apps alone. These two generations have an insatiable appetite for video, with more than 62 percent of Gen Z using YouTube daily. Not only that, but both generations also state that YoutTube and other online video content creators are more influential in their lives than TV, sports, or music stars.

For dealerships, the practical takeaway is to build a robust library of videos across the web. Use social media, YouTube, and your website to host content that will appeal to this audience. Because this audience craves authenticity, use your own staff members to create content.

Examples include:

  • A walkthrough of your showroom hosted by your lead salesman
  • A series of vehicle maintenance tips from your service department
  • An About Us video highlighting the values of your dealership
  • A Q&A based on questions submitted by customers

Video is a powerful tool for reaching both Millennials and Gen Z. Make sure that you continue to update your video library, keeping your content relevant and fresh.

4. Offer Live Shopping

Beyond static video content, use live shopping streams to reach Gen Z and Millennials. Live shopping, also commonly referred to as live commerce, got its start way back in 2016. Since then, the concept of live commerce has flourished. By March 2020, 265 million people were using live commerce to make shopping decisions.

Hosting a live shopping stream is a great way to showcase your inventory while also opening up the doors for conversation with younger generations. Start by hosting a monthly live shopping event. Use a portion of your marketing spend to promote the event, targeting these younger demographics through social media campaigns.

From here, use the feedback you get to fuel your next event.

Do your customers want to see more details about vehicles? Do they have a lot of questions about financing? Or, are they simply interested in learning more about the specials you are running?

Live shopping is a powerful tool, helping connect your team to buyers from anywhere at any time.

5. Showcase Your Heart

As a dealership, what do you stand for? What are your company values? As a team, are you passionate about a local cause?

These are all things that younger generations want to hear about. They want to connect with your brand on a human-to-human level.

Next time you run an ad campaign, ditch the straight sales tactic and instead talk about the work your team is doing to help the local animal shelter or the fact that your team stands up for the LGBTQ community. Are you offsetting your carbon footprint? Talk about how!

Millennials and Gen Z are not only more loyal to brands that promote shared values, but they are also willing to spend more money on the same product when they believe in a brand’s stance. Pay attention to what causes these generations to care about in your local community, and showcase your brand’s stance.

6. Have a Conversation

Because Millennials and Gen Z have grown up with cellphones in hand and social media a quick tap away, they are less likely to respond to traditional outbound marketing. These generations want to have a conversation with brands.

They want to chat with a customer representative online. They want to find help around the clock. They want to see a response to their Tweet, and they want to text you their RSVP to an event.

Make sure that you are using every channel available to talk to these two groups. Train your sales staff on the importance of communicating across platforms. And, make sure that your digital presence is all tied together to ensure that you never miss a beat.

Key Takeaways

Reaching Millennials and Gen Z will only increase in importance over the next few years. As these two groups take over the bulk of buying power, your dealership will need to reach these generations effectively to stay ahead of the competition.

As you build your strategy, focus on the following key takeaways:

  1. You have to be online. If you had any hesitation about spending money on your digital presence previously, you need to let that hesitation go. The future is digital-first.
  2. You need to tell a compelling story. Take the time to build a brand identity and think about what stances your dealership is willing to take.
  3. You might need a little help. Younger generations are digital natives. They are accustomed to traversing across digital channels without thought. It isn’t always easy to keep up with the latest digital trends. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an agency for help to ensure that you create a seamless online experience.

Reach a Larger Audience with J&L Marketing

At J&L Marketing, we specialize in assisting dealerships with increasing their digital reach. If you are looking to tap into new demographics and curate a loyal customer base from younger generations, we are here to help. We can work with you to implement the right strategy to reach young consumers in your local area.

From designing a digital showroom to connecting your digital channels to ensure consistency across the web, we can work with you to design a robust digital marketing strategy. Talk to our team today to learn more about how we can help.

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