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Why Millennial Car Buyers Don’t Feel Comfortable on Your Sales Floor


If you’re trying to attract millennials to your sales floor, here’s a hint: don’t start with your sales floor.

As a millennial, I can tell you that my generation is simply not swayed by the sales pitches your car salespeople have perfected. In fact, we’re not even listening to them.

Instead, we’re taking our decision-making to the Internet, where we can browse and compare and ask questions on our own time, without feeling pressured to buy.

In this post, I’ll tell you why millennials like me aren’t comfortable on your auto sales floor. Then I’ll tell you how you can use the Web to meet us on our own turf, put us at ease, and ultimately woo us into making a purchase.

The Millennial Mindset

It’s no secret that millennials approach things differently. School, jobs, even relationships…we see them all in a different light than our parents and grandparents do.

Because technology has infused practically every part of our life–including the way we shop–we tend to have shorter attention spans, less personal interactions, and more skeptical attitudes when dealing with people we don’t trust.

You can argue whether that mindset is good or bad. But you can’t argue whether you need to keep it in mind when marketing to millennials.

When millennial car buyers like me are considering a purchase, we don’t have a lot of patience for people we can sense are just trying to sell us something. When an ad interrupts our music on Spotify, we mute it. When a commercial bursts onto our TV screen, we change the channel.

And when we see a salesperson making a beeline for us in a store, we walk the other way.

If you’re trying to sell us something, don’t scare us off. We need to know that not only do you have something valuable to offer us, you’re also a trustworthy source of information. If we’ve never even heard of you, we’ll never listen to what you have to say.

Which brings me to my next point.

Don’t Wait for Us to Come to You–Come to Us

The auto industry often complains that millennials don’t care about cars as much as the generations before us. But just because we’re slower to enter the market, that doesn’t mean we aren’t entering it at all. In fact, in just ten years, Generation Y will make up 75% of the car-buying market.

So why aren’t we buying right now? Basically, we’re just a lot more cautious. Millennial car buyers also have a lot more information to compare.

With the Internet at our fingertips, we’re able to research innumerable vehicles at the touch of a screen. And with the rise of social media, we’re able to cast our question nets wide in order to get the best recommendations (or warnings) from friends and family we know we can count on.

The marketing rule of seven claims that a shopper needs to hear a marketer’s message at least seven different times before finally purchasing that product or service. This is especially true for an investment as costly as a car, and it’s especially, especially true for a shopper as dubious as a millennial.

Plus, since many of us are first-time buyers and/or concerned about our own financial stability, we’re even more likely to take our time in making a decision on a vehicle.

So instead of expecting us to simply walk onto your sales floor and strike a deal, meet us where we already are: on the Web.

The Digital Difference

If you want to reach millennials, reach out to us online.

Start by building your social presence on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. At least 33% of young car buyers search these sites for information and reviews–in fact, they’re usually the first places we check. Having a strong social presence helps your dealership appear both credible and down-to-earth.

Next, create useful content on your website, including blog posts, landing pages, and vehicle detail pages. Don’t hide any information from your customers. If we have a question, your website should have the answer.

Finally, engage us with email. Once you’ve gotten our email address (usually by having us fill out a form on a landing page in order to get some sort of offer), you can send us targeted messages that are relevant to our browsing history or stated interests. As we move farther down the sales funnel, you can get more personal and eventually invite us in for a test drive.

Whatever your online presence looks like, make sure it looks good on mobile. Not only do mobile-friendly websites get better search engine traffic, but half of all millennials use their smartphones during the car-buying process. So be sure your site is optimized for mobile.

What to Do When We Finally Meet Face-to-Face

When we’ve done our research and finally come in for a test drive, don’t descend on us like vultures–we can smell the desperation. Instead, simply provide us with the information we need, let us know you’re available to answer any questions, and give us space to shop at our own pace.

And most importantly, be honest. If we ask you the difference between the CR-V and the RAV4, and all you do is brag about the CR-V, we’ll check out of the conversation. We’re on the watch for slimy salespeople, so always give us the most accurate information–including any hidden costs that might be associated with a purchase–right up front. Even if it’s stuff we don’t want to hear, we’ll be more likely to buy if we feel we’re being treated fairly.

Get Started with Digital Marketing

Want to learn more about marketing to millennials? Check out our resources page, where we’ve got tons of free eBooks and case studies on how to use social media, blog posts, and email to connect your dealership to younger customers.

Learn How to Market to Millennials

You can also contact us to see how we can help your dealership specifically. As a digital marketing firm specializing in the auto industry, we’re pretty experienced with the whole marketing-t0-millennial-car-buyers thing. Reach out to us and we’ll tell you more.

Image: John Lloyd