TB EDITORIAL: Adapting to Millennials can pay off
AKRON (April 13, 2015) — Generational speaker and researcher Jason Dorsey has given tire and auto service dealers a great incentive to understand and reach the next generation of customers—men and women between the ages of 19 and 37.
“We're the easiest generation for you to win, not the hardest,” he said of so-called Millennials during a speech at Goodyear's recent dealer conference. “And we're the No. 1 generation most likely to refer our friends in (the automotive) category, because our friends don't know where to go either.”
This group, which is about 80 million strong in the U.S., has $1 trillion in buying power, Mr. Dorsey said, and by 2017 it will outspend Baby Boomers. “At that moment everything starts to change.” And it's that change that tire dealers should not ignore.
The reality is there always have been differences between and among generations — and businesses and marketers that understand and adapt to these differences are the ones most likely to win over these customers.
Mr. Dorsey said as much in his presentation, noting that “in the U.S. and Canada, we're the fastest growing generation in the workplace and the fastest growing generation in your market,” said the co-founder and chief strategic officer for the Center for Generational Kinetics, and a Millennial himself. “And unlike every other generation, we are completely up for grabs.”
One reason is that many Millennials are getting a later start in life. They are finishing their education, entering the workforce, getting married and having their first child older than ever before, Mr. Dorsey said. They haven't yet made those life-long relationships with local businesses.
This generation also is technologically dependent. GenYers, as they are also known, don't necessarily understand how the technology they use works, but they know they can't live without it.
These are important distinctions that can help dealers best reach this customer group.
It may seem counterintuitive for a baby-boomer tire dealership manager, for example, to view someone in his or her mid-20s as an inexperienced customer, but that's the right approach in dealing with this generation. As Mr. Dorsey put it, perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek: “We're 23 years old, we have a degree in communication and we've never spoken to a human. And now you're staring at us, asking us a question about things we have no idea (about).”
The same is true of trying to reach GenYers by phone when their preferred method of communicating is texting. It's just not going to be very effective.
In the workplace, Millennials must adapt to the working environment, but in the marketplace it's the customer that holds the power.
Understanding this is a key to winning over these customers. As Mr. Dorsey said, “Whoever adapts to us wins, because there is no incentive for us to adapt to you.”
This editorial appears in the April 13 print edition of Tire Business. Have an opinion on it? Send your comments or a letter to the editor to [email protected].
Do you have an opinion about this story? Do you have some thoughts you'd like to share with our readers? Tire Business would love to hear from you. Email your letter to Editor Don Detore at [email protected].