In recent years, there has been much discussion about how millennials’ lifestyle choices — carpooling and using apps like Uber and Lyft — have negatively impacted the auto industry. While actual numbers debate the veracity of this impact (especially as many millennials are now getting older, starting families, and opting into car ownership), it’s important that auto dealerships focus on the real driving force behind the auto industry: Baby Boomers. But, how do you go about marketing to Boomers?
How important are Baby Boomers to an auto dealership’s bottom line? NADA research shows that Baby Boomers account for 62 percent of all new car sales in the U.S. Boomers have such a huge influence on the car-buying market that The Chicago Tribune highlighted it in a 2017 story.
With 55- to 75-year-olds having such a substantial influence on auto buying, what can dealerships do to cater to this crowd and retain them as customers? Marketing to Boomers involves understanding the common circumstances shared by this generation and the values that matter most to them.
Marketing to Boomers
For Boomers, even though they raised families in prosperous times, working to see their children through college still meant a great deal of sacrifice. Part of this was a financial sacrifice — saving money to make sure that their kids could get a good education, live in nice neighborhoods, and go on vacations. The other part was a sacrifice in lifestyle — opting for long commutes from the suburbs and choosing station wagons over more extravagant (and less family-friendly) vehicles.
Now empty nesters with disposable income, many Boomers are ready to enjoy life on their terms. For many, this means buying the vehicle they’ve dreamed of for years. For auto dealerships keen on building relationships with Boomers, it’s important to properly train sales professionals to really listen to what their customers want rather than trying to push a particular vehicle. Whether it’s a high-end luxury SUV or a spiffy new compact car or crossover SUV, Boomers find themselves finally in a position to choose the vehicle they want with nary a concern for toting around their kids’ friends or sports gear. It’s essential that sales advisors listen to understand what these customers really want.
More Disposable Income Means More Choices
Another factor to consider is that more disposable income means that Boomers don’t have to settle for a customer service experience they feel is sub-par or inconvenient. While millennials are more focused on saving money and will likely wait longer to utilize free services like complimentary maintenance, Boomers will gladly pay for a service if they can receive it faster or with less hassle. This makes it essential that an auto dealership work hard to offer exceptional customer service, speed up its service department, and move customers through in the time initially promised.
Boomers also value the human touch, in-person interaction, and building relationships. If your dealership fails on any of these counts, your Boomer customers will likely take their vehicles — and their future business — elsewhere.
Consider Communication Preferences
With younger generations moving more towards digital communication, it’s easy for older generations to feel left out. This is particularly true of Boomers. While younger people tend to avoid phone calls in favor of email and texting, older customers often prefer a phone call or in-person interaction.
Failing to consider customer communication preferences is one of the most common pitfalls of dealership communication. It’s also why Performance Administration Corp. works with its clients to keep track of individual customer communication preferences. This way, if a customer would like to be reminded of an appointment with a quick phone call rather than an email, your dealership staff can easily oblige.
Customer interaction isn’t one-size-fits-all. By better understanding customer demographics and motivation, your dealership can ensure better outreach to and retention of all of its customers, from Boomers to millennials and beyond.