Last week, our director of strategy, Stephen, attended Motor City West, Southern California’s premier automotive marketing event. He went to discuss various ways brands can capture the attention spans, respect and discretionary income of Millennials, the most plugged-in, awesome generation (#Iknowright?) of spoiled brats (hey, now) you should target for long-term loyalty.
The automotive industry is famously guilty of strong-arming the consumer. Occasionally, that works. But Millennials pretty much break into hives at the slightest hint of “Stop in today to receive 0.5 percent APR financing for 36 months and $500 cash back!!!” That’s too hard, noisy, confusing and boring to understand. The message requires too much work to do anything about, so it goes ignored.
How can the automotive industry—and by extension all industries—cater to Gen Y consumers, who collectively wield $200 billion of spending power? That’s where honest, entertaining, mind-blowingly original cross-platform experiences come in.
Where were we? Oh yeah, cars. Take a look at these insights from Motor City West 2012 to help you develop engaging brand experiences, no matter your industry:
- Operate in the culture, not the category. Know what your audience feels, and respond appropriately. Did you know 55% of Gen Y gets the sense they’re being screwed? The dominant systems—government, education, corporations—have failed to deliver. As a result, Millennials are pretty much immune to brand messaging. It provides almost no utility. What they want are useful, engaging experiences they can share.
- Be authentic. Millennials came of age in an era where rapidly increasing access to information revealed countless experiences, ideas and viewpoints from everywhere in the entire world, some of which contradicted how they were raised. Early exposure to vast amounts of info either helped them see through what they were taught, or strengthened what they already believed.
- The content defines the brand. Smart phones and Gen Y are inseparable. You better give them dynamite content they can share with friends and strangers alike. (See also: the next bullet point.)
- I am what I share. Facebook is where I lie to my friends; Twitter is where I speak truth to strangers. Millennials invest their personalities in social media platforms far more than earlier generations, using web and mobile apps to “broadcast their thoughts and experiences and…contribute user-generated content,” according to a recent survey of 4,000 Millennials and 1,000 non-Millennials conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, Barkley and Service Management Group.
- Don’t forget, things keep getting better. Millennials prefer to rent their cars, not own them. They would rather stay current and update their rides on a regular basis than sink their money into something that will be obsolete in a few years. This trend extends to what they wear and where they live. Movement and early adoption define the generation.
Motor City West 2012 provided valuable insights into Gen Y consumer behavior and what that means for the automotive industry. If you attended the conference, what did you think? What other tactics can the industry use to reach this generation of influencers? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter.
An upcoming post will give a high-level overview of the Millennial generation, as well as some killer strategies to make them fall in love with you. Who doesn’t like love?