Society, the media, and the marketing industry more often than not categorize people into broad generalizations that gloss over the nuance and complexity that define real humanity.  From political affiliation to age or ethnicity, we easily and frequently force labels and classifications on people that generalize and reduce who they really are.

This herd mentality is crippling for marketers. Truly connecting to your target consumer is impossible when “categorical buckets” don’t provide deep insight into individual identity and motivation.

Take millennials. Understanding this population is a multibillion dollar challenge. Unlike prior generations that are said to have valued hard work and family, millennials are often described by a myriad of unflattering characteristics like tech-obsessed, hyper-confident, and narcissistic, to name only a few.

Unfortunately, this group of 18-34 year olds has been forced into generalized categories that do not always reflect its true and varied values. Specifically, millennials have been described, en masse, as lacking interest in car ownership and its accompanying lifestyle that marked their parents’ generation.

For auto marketers, it is essential to take a deeper look into what motivates millennials in order to recognize profitable opportunities. At the J.D. Power 2013 Automotive Marketing Roundtable, Resonate’s CEO Bryan Gernert provides insight as to how to reach an audience that has been hit so hard by the economic recession – 14% more likely to be underemployed and 10% more likely to be unemployed compared to the total population – leaving them incapable of affording cars.

If it’s difficult for millennials to purchase cars, then it’s even harder to sell them cars. Many assume that owning a car is at the bottom of most millennials’ priorities as their allegiance lies first and foremost with saving the environment. On the contrary, Resonate found that even though they are 40% more likely to promote green efforts online, in reality, millennials are 17% less likely to recycle and 29% less likely to purchase environmentally friendly products, when compared to those aged 35 and up.

Moving beyond generalities imposed upon millennials is the only way to connect with them.  Auto marketers must discern what is really driving consumer behavior.

These younger consumers, who many claim are preoccupied with self, lend support to automobiles which are innovative (15% of millennials) and exciting (14% of millennials) when compared to adults 35 and older. But an even deeper look at what really motivates millennials exposes a true desire for dependability (53% of millennials) and cost effectiveness (39% of millennials) when buying a car. They want to be certain they can actually get to their job once they secure one.

Furthermore, Resonate uncovered that millennials’ values differ from those of older populations (35+) in regard to specific auto brand. Where an older Honda customer values peace of mind, a millennial Honda customer values a sense of accomplishment. Millennials who purchase Chevrolet are more inclined to prioritize health, but those who are older place emphasis on patriotism. Additionally, millennials are more likely to own Toyotas or Hondas compared to their senior counterparts, while Ford gains momentum in next purchase intent.

Click here for your own free copy of the Millennial Auto Buying Insights Report.

Here is a more in-depth look at what motivates millennials to buy cars:


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