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Generation Z: The Mobile-Driven Generation

A Growing Generation

As Generation Z grows into a larger-purchase generation, it’s important for your dealership to take notice of the ways this younger generation of shoppers prefers to tackle the marketplace. The way they shop, research, and connect with businesses will affect the way your dealership chooses to communicate with and market to them. Generation Z, the generation immediately following millennials, is the youngest car-buying generation. Just grazing the automotive market, they are assuredly not a generation to be ignored, as they have money to spend, and they have grown up knowing how to care for their finances and plan their spending.

It’s important to note the things that drive this generation in the marketplace, both socially and economically. According to Drive My Family, Ford hit a recent homerun with younger shoppers when it took time out to discover their affinity for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Often opting for cars over trucks and larger SUVs, this generation is focused on the economics and long-term maintenance that come with their purchases. With less money to spend than older vehicle shoppers, savvy Gen Z consumers are paying close attention to fuel economy and the overall expense of the vehicles they purchase.

Gen Z, a Generation That’s Creating its Own Culture

While Gen Z is only just becoming old enough to purchase vehicles, it’s important to understand what drives and inspires these consumers. They are the post-millennials, generally defined as those born between the mid-1990s and 2010, and they are experiencing a social and cultural reality that is distinctly different from that of previous generations. Their parents have lived and budgeted through the Great Recession, and therefore, this generation has inherited a cautious approach with finances and approaches spending with a levelheaded outlook. Although these shoppers are still young, they value their money and seek out value in the marketplace, a mentality that is expected to carry over to larger purchases as they grow older.

True digital natives, this youngest consumer generation was born into a 24/7 online world. They are growing up immersed in platforms like Instagram, consuming digital media from multiple devices, and leaning on various online sites for information and updates. These teens and twenty-somethings are tech-savvy, often preferring their mobile devices over other options like television.

A huge portion of the population, Gen Z is an estimated 60-million strong, however, it’s tough for marketers to get a true read on overall preferences and tastes because this generation spans from elementary-aged kids to early twenty-somethings.
While they’ve got plenty of spending power, around $44 billion per year, they’re still growing into their styles and buying preferences, and that leaves businesses waiting to see how they can best reach this maturing generation. With their spending money coming from introductory jobs—and in many cases allowances from their parents—it’s essential to know where this generation’s priorities lie in order to formulate a marketing plan that will be successful for your dealership:

  • Gen Z has grown up continuously plugged in. They are almost never without social media, and for your dealership, this means being even more in tune with your social platforms and doing your research to determine the most up-to-date places to post relevant content in order to reach these consumers.
  • They are multi-taskers, and they are efficient. On average, Gen Z individuals use 5 devices per day, with 41% of their non-school time spent on some type of screen. Hang-out time is now screen time, and it’s common for friends to spend hours chatting, doing homework, or simply just being together on platforms like FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and Skype.
  • Making a difference in the world is extremely important to Gen Z individuals. This means marketers will need to pay close attention to the products and services they can offer to garner positive attention in this regard. Dealerships that highlight fuel efficiency, affordable hybrids, and ways to give back to local and global communities will be more likely to gain favor with these younger shoppers.
  • Gen Z wants to be involved and engaged with the brands they love. Rather than being marketed to, this generation wants to feel connected with brands and build relationships. Reach out via online platforms and take their feedback to heart in order to truly win this generation’s trust and loyalty.
  • Authenticity is essential. These consumers are looking for brand stories that are conveyed in real and authentic ways. They appreciate openness and honesty, and when your dealership is able to connect with them and lean into their realistic, problem-solving nature, you’ll gain points and begin to build relationships.
  • Gen Z is more global than any generation before it. Although millennials are noted for their global awareness, Gen Z boasts even broader global thinking, primarily due to the fact that they have been online nearly their entire lives. They are able to easily share thoughts, interactions, and experiences with global peers because of the technology that’s available to them. Gen Z consumers will likely appreciate dealerships that are able to share global viewpoints and awareness.
  • They are cautious and money-conscious. A pragmatic group, Gen Z has grown up thinking about finances and planning before they spend. In addition to the Great Recession, they have seen previous generations struggle with issues such as student debt, Social Security, and the overall difficulty of saving in a tough economy. Because of this, they are diligent researchers who want to be sure of product decisions before they spend.

While it’s true Generation Z is still a fairly young one when it comes to the automotive market, it’s not too soon to turn your attention to the traits and characteristics driving these consumers in the marketplace.
Some Gen Z shoppers are already purchasing vehicles, and if they’re not already thinking about it, it’s a sure thing your brand messages and presence are reaching them via the online media they are consuming. By getting to know this complex generation of young shoppers, your dealership can gain an understanding of what it will take, now and in the near future, to gain their trust and earn their business.


A new generation of shoppers will soon be on your showroom floor, and they’ll be looking for a dealership that can engage them with an exciting brand, empower them to make a difference in the world, and help them to get the best vehicles for their money.  It’s a pretty big challenge, but building great consumer relationships with these shoppers will pay off in a big way for your dealership!

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Tags: Audience, Culture, Demographics, Gen, Generation, Generation Z, Market, Marketing, Media, Social, More…Target, Technology, Z


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