Tess Karesky
| 23 August 2017

Generation Now: How Millennials Choose a Dealership

Your dealership is ready. You have an in-house barista, a fixed gear bike on every car with a roof rack, and you’ve traded out your inflatable gorilla for a large screen that shows funny cat videos. You’re going to be the number one seller to millennials! Okay…so maybe that isn’t the recipe for success for millennial outreach (Though it would probably work great in Portland!). However, our recent millennial car buyer study uncovered some major motivating factors.

How They Find Potential Dealerships

When narrowing down dealerships, millennials use many of the same resources they do when shortlisting a vehicle. Ninety-eight percent use search engines to find out more about a dealership. Eighty-five percent use online reviews to learn about dealerships’ online reputations. Three out of four millennials say that word-of-mouth recommendations are important as well. data-entity-type= Recommendations from friends or family members are helpful to younger buyers who are less familiar with the car-buying process. Features like Facebook Recommend make it even easier. Of course, your dealership’s website is a crucial first introduction to a millennial buyer. Only half of Gen X-ers and a quarter of baby boomers use dealership sites as an info channel, so making your site millennial-friendly is vital. Upfront pricing, real-time chat, high-quality pictures and video and detailed leasing information are digital features millennials find most useful.

Choosing the Final Dealership: Positive Influencers

Unsurprisingly, 9 out of 10 millennials value a good deal when deciding where to buy. Price, financing and the trade-in offer all factor in to what members of this cash-strapped generation consider a “better deal.”  data-entity-type= The salesperson’s attitude is also important. Eighty-five percent of millennials say it influences their final purchase choice. Millennials want someone who acts as a trusted advisor and treats them like a peer. One millennial reported that he would rather pay an extra $300-$400 at a dealership with a knowledgeable, no-pressure salesperson. Women are especially tuned into a salesperson’s attitude, with 100 percent saying it influences the dealership they choose. This echoes our findings in our recent Language of Gender study. Baby boomers were the only generation whose decision was not heavily influenced by the salesperson’s attitude. Finally, dealership proximity and vehicle options and inventory are important factors for 70 percent of Millennials. Interestingly, proximity was most important for shoppers in the suburbs (85 percent) and least important to those in an urban area (57 percent). The desire for more options likely comes from the millennial’s desire to express their individuality by driving the exact car they wanted.

Choosing the Final Dealership: Negative Influencers

Ninety-five percent of Millennials said a salesperson’s bad attitude drove them away from a particular dealership, and 88 percent said high-pressure sales tactics were a negative influence. More than half said they would leave if they sensed a dealership’s sales approach was too aggressive.  data-entity-type= Millennials also have little patience for price negotiation or inefficiencies in paperwork and process, with 6 in 10 noting that they were negative influencers. This is a generation that does much of its purchasing online—where prices are set, the buying process is quick, and there are no pushy salespeople. While buying a car is certainly more complex than buying headphones on Amazon, anything that makes the process faster and easier will please this group. Digital workflows are a good place to start; more than three-quarters of Millennials said they would like to start structuring their deal online. The right combination of a strong digital presence and helpful in-store practices will help bring Millennials to your dealership—even if you aren’t offering them unicorn themed drinks.


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Tess Karesky
Tess Karesky

<p><strong>Tess Karesky</strong> is a Marketing Research Specialist at CDK Global providing insights and thought leadership to drive the industry forward. She has researched the behaviors and habits of Millennial, luxury, Hispanic and female shoppers, in addition to other consumer groups. Her findings include insights into optimizing web content, reputation, advertising, sales and service experience, and customer retention. Her research has been presented to automotive executives at Lexus, Audi, Nissan, Infiniti and GM, as well as industry events including the Driving Sales Most Valuable Insight award. She feels strongly in the value of quality, engaging research that provides actionable insights. She can be reached at <a href=""></a>.</p&gt;

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