Tess Karesky
| 08/31/2016

Think Like a Millennial: Dollars and Sense

Millennials are gaining more and more buying power, especially when it comes to cars. As we mentioned in the first post of our “Think Like a Millennial” series, prioritizing affordability is one way to better connect with this ever-changing demographic. 

While things have improved financially for Millennials, many still have reason to be cautious with their money, especially after the Great Recession. Unemployment for older Millennials is just above average at five percent, but the college age and new graduate Millennials are still well above at nine percent. Student debt and a tendency to live in urban centers with a higher cost of living mean that their growing wages are having a slower impact on their ability to spend. The top reason Millennials say that they don’t own a car is the purchase and maintenance costs. All generations want less expensive, more fuel-efficient vehicles with affordable payment or lease options, but this is especially true of Millennials.

Here are a few ways to show value to these money-conscious shoppers:

Promote OEM Rebates

Rebates can shave off enough of the cost to entice Millennials. Not long from the days of student discounts, Millennials are still on the hunt for a good deal. Be sure to highlight new graduate rebates and Uber driver deals that are more likely to be relevant to them.

Think Long Term

Many Millennials are still living paycheck to paycheck – and this means they’re looking for a deal that fits in their monthly budget. The sticker price is often not the dealbreaker, but the monthly payment could be. Spreading the cost over a longer period of time could help them get the car they want at a monthly rate they can afford.

Create Maintenance Bundles

Believe it or not, some Millennials don’t even know dealerships offer services like oil changes or tire rotations. Giving them incentives, like including a handful of oil changes or other regular maintenance will help alleviate concerns about service costs. It also helps them build a relationship with your Service department so they’ll come back when other maintenance needs arise.

Encourage Certified Pre-owned

Buying a used car is becoming a more appealing option for many new buyers. Last year saw a 5.6 percent increase in used car sales, with many of these being Millennials. Certified pre-owned vehicles allow them to get all of the digital features they want from newer models at a budget-friendly price.

Millennials aren’t penny-pinchers, but they are budget-conscious. Think about how your dealership can cater to Millennials and their wallets. In the next part of the series, “Apps Aren’t Food,” we’ll share some tips on how cultivating your digital presence can help you connect with Millennials. Stay tuned!

Tess Karesky
Tess Karesky

Tess Karesky 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