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The Great Recession decimated auto sales volume in the US across the board, and may have swept a significant fraction of the youngest consumers from the automotive market permanently, as many learned to make do without a vehicle.
However, according to a new eMarketer report, “Millennials and Autos: How the Young Can Be Won,” potential exists. This has been exemplified by several car companies and automotive brands that have used innovative digital video, social media and car-sharing propositions to drive awareness and vehicle sales from dealership showrooms.
At approximately 86 million people, the millennial demographic represents a massive swell of the population. The consensus on volume, however, is that millennials are unlikely to buy as many cars per capita as their parents.
While per capita vehicle unit sales volume may stay down due to the lengthening of vehicle ownership cycles, US millennial generation car buyers will drive millions of vehicle sales for car companies(OEM) over the next few years. One advantage brands have in this effort is that interest in automotive content remains strong. The 18-to-34-year-old segment still makes up a large portion of the population consuming digital automotive media.
Males in this age group visited automotive websites in greater proportion than any other group, according to a June 2012 Nielsen survey. Taken as a whole, 18- to 34-year-olds were a very close second to Gen X.
Mobile will be the dominant platform to reach US millennial generation automotive consumers for the foreseeable future.
According to 2012 research studies from Morpace and AutoTrader.com Millennial generation car buyers and automotive consumers use mobile phones 250% more than other generations of dealership customers during the car shopping process. These studies identified Top informational mobile activities, which included:
And while it is important for automotive marketers to keep up with new platforms, social sites are teeming with enough potential young consumers to drive banner years for any vehicle brand. Digital video has earned a good deal of automotive investment, as it tends to attract millennial-heavy audiences.
For the long-term play, Car Companies (OEM) are coming up with other innovative, brand awareness approaches to reaching millennial generation automotive consumers. For example, Ford has partnered with Zipcar on select college campuses to promote exposure to the company’s products on a non-sales, non-ownership basis.
Auto Industry Observers say Ford's experiential tactics, along with social media innovations, have helped Ford gain nearly 2 percentage points of market share since 2008 to own more than 11% of the 18-to-34 market, according to R.L. Polk data released in June 2012.