StoryStream’s Angelica Thomas offers her thoughts and insights on the challenge facing every automotive brand

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How to connect with the millennial car buyer

Millennials – the generation transforming the world. They’ve grown up with traditional media, and have created social. They are the people who hold the current buying power, and they are the reason the automotive industry needs to revolutionise.

Traditional advertising and marketing is glossy, sleek, and promotional, however, amongst millennials the pull lies within user generated content. As they are users of social media, and consumers of everyday, real-time content. Not only is it consumed by them, but it is created by them. Social media enables customers to have a voice, a voice they appreciate being heard.

However, millennials don’t just want to be heard, they want to be understood. Understanding a millennial’s wants and needs within the car purchasing journey is important to the progress of the automotive industry. So, let’s take a look at what millennials want from a brand when deciding to make a purchase, how some automotive brands are already adapting to meet their expectations, as well as a little about how StoryStream can assist automotive brands in improving their approach towards the millennial generation.

Unified Decisions

Many millennials enjoy the convenience of a unified purchasing experience. As the less steps it takes to complete a task, such as making a car purchase, the more likely it is to be completed. This however, does not mean that millennials will not visit a dealer, it just means that before making their decision to purchase a car in person, they will do their research heavily online – according to Google, one example saw a single user make over 900 online interactions, before deciding to purchase her car.

As they would have perused images and reviews created about their vehicle of choice or brand, as well as visited the necessary websites, before they considered buying it. So it is clear that when they visit the dealer they, more or less, know what they want.

However, with the vast amounts of information online, it is becoming difficult to grasp the attention of the millennial generation. Forbes conducted some research around brand loyalty and discovered that ‘millennials can be persuaded toward lasting loyalty with highly personalized communications’ and that the traditional power of the brand name itself does not always result in a sale. So we know that it is becoming increasingly vital for industries to make communications with their customers more personalised, but what else?

For the millennial generation, an equal emphasis is placed on the desire for a unified shopping experience, instant gratification, appreciation and connection.

A great example of an automotive brand catering to the process of unified and effortless decision making, would be Lynk & Co, as their cars can be owned, shared or subscribed to. Making car ownership as flexible and as easy as owning a phone. Lynk & Co also unified their purchasing process, allowing digital and in-store purchasing to co-exist, driven by the creation of online stores. The results speak for themselves, for their pre-sale which took place in November 2017, Lynk & Co revealed that they had received 6,000 pre-sale orders for their models in just 2 minutes and 17 seconds.

Understanding a Millennial

Smart phones. Smart TVs. Smart cars. Smart technology. Millennials are the users and customers of all things smart, and a great aspect of smart, is intuition.

Once the connection has been made between a brand and a millennial, their attention needs to be kept. According to Accenture, “Millennials can be exceptionally loyal customers—provided they feel they’ve been treated right”. Keeping a customer’s attention means understanding them. Online, this means having  an intuitive website, one that provides a fresh perspective and an evolution from the traditional automotive experience. Since enterprise challenges make website redesigns and rebuilds an often unrealistic task, that fresh perspective can be most effectively achieved by providing unique content experiences.

The experience should feel intuitive to the customer and being intuitive means remaining connected. Connected to customers needs, wants and ways.  

An automotive brand that has a great intuitive campaign running at the moment is Volvo. Their EVA (Equal Vehicles for All) campaign highlights how they have compiled crash test research, using a variety of test dummies representing different demographics and customers rather than traditional standard ones. Volvo are now sharing those learnings with the entire automotive industry so that the safety of vehicles can be improved across the board. By doing this, Volvo have catered to their customers needs, which are safety, and wants, which include inclusivity.

Another way in which the same brand is getting involved with their customers and enhancing their experience, is through the use of StoryStream LiveScreen technology – which is currently being used at the Volvo Brand Experience centre, in Gothenburg.  The Volvo Brand Experience centre is the collection point for customers who have opted for a once in a lifetime experience of collecting their new car in person. Volvo actively encourages those customers, and those that visit the centre’s museum, to share their Volvo adventures, which Volvo then shares on the centre’s LiveScreens, creating a fully customer driven experience for all visitors. You can see and read more about Volvo’s installation here.

Voicing Opinion

See it. Like it. Share it. When people share content on social media, they are validating a product, place, or person within their life, not only are they validating it, they are also receiving validation on it. Validation plays a huge role in the purchasing process of a millennial, as it can determine  the success rate of a product or brand.

This process hasn’t really changed much, just the way in which it is done has. Before social media, if someone got a new car they would tell and show their neighbour, and if their neighbour appreciated the car enough, they might have bought one themselves – simple word of mouth. When purchasing something new, like a car, a consumer wants to receive validation from people around them. So they will use their voice in order to obtain this. This word of mouth way of influencing has only grown as social media platforms have developed, and according to Social Media Week “80% of consumers are likely to purchase an item based on a friend’s suggestions”. However, it is often an overlooked aspect of the purchasing journey.

Porsche are an automotive brand that have realised the power that this advocacy content can have, and are running an innovative campaign where owners of 911’s can upload images, videos and text about the adventures they have had with their vehicles over the years.

Since the campaign began in November last year, Porsche have received an overwhelming number of contributions from all around the world, and have published over 750 stories. The StoryStream powered microsite has been visited by over 218,000 people, and on average an incredible 9 stories are read by each visitor. While not just millennial specific, those stats show the engagement power of a well connected customer driven experience. Porsche have taken a consumer’s need for validation, amplified it and made the experience more personal for their customers all at once.

When someone purchases a vehicle, their journey doesn’t end, it begins. Through the process of offering a millennial a seamless, connected and validated car purchasing experience, you are not only earning a customer for life, you could also be earning a brand contributor for life!