Gen Y and Gen X utilize, shop, and buy cars differently. But why is this shocking? Every generation does things a bit differently than the last. So when ‘studies’ reveal that “generation Y would rather invest in iPhones than cars,” that’s essentially the equivalent of starting a conversation with “Well back in my day, we did things a bit differently.” Of course they’re more influenced by the internet and tech revolution, but as they grow up, they still need to get places and they’re still having families. All this to say there are more factors driving Gen Y’s car decision making than whether they’d prefer an iPhone to a car.
Fact: Gen Y is buying more new cars than Gen X as of August of this year. Our trusty ‘studies’ show that Y prefers smaller compact cars whereas X prefers larger SUVs. Again, could this be attributed to the natural progression of life? Probably. Like Gen X, they will eventually grow bigger families and salaries that command larger, more premium cars.
So what are the differences that carmakers should actually consider important when they target this crucial customer segment? The big one is that Gen Y cares about experiences over objects, adventures over status symbols. It doesn’t mean as much to them that the car has a BMW crest so much as what the car represents, what it embodies. When car companies start talking about the experiences, the adventures, and the memories that their cars can create, that’s when young car buyers will start to pay attention.
Though I’ve talked about it before in a previous post, Subaru does this incredibly well. All of their cars are catered to a non-pompous, exploratory, outdoorsy lifestyle that happen to resonate with many born after 1980. Their ads portray the cars as enablers, conduits for young people to seek adventure wherever their lives take them. To succeed in this segment, companies need their cars to be part of the customer’s family, a trusty friend accompanying them on their journey.
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