Published Saturady September 6, 2014
The auto industry has been fretting over declining sales to the Millennial generation (those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s).
Some sources estimate that up to 30 per cent fewer younger people are bothering to get their driver's license and buy cars, compared to previous generations.
This waning interest in cars poses a serious problem for automakers and dealers, and to address this issue I've conduced some research and come up with a sure-fire formula for selling automobiles to this car-averse segment of the market.
Here are eight conditions that are bound to reverse current car-buying trends among the younger generation.
1. Cars must drive themselves. Millennials are much too busy and important managing their Facebook profiles, exchanging text messages and saving the world to bother themselves with the mundane task of accelerating, braking and checking blind spots. Cars have been around for over 100 years and they should be drive themselves by now. If the law insists that drivers must be in control of their vehicle at all times, then controls should be in the form of a joystick.
2). Cars must be powered by air. Even with stricter emissions standards, gasoline and diesel vehicles are still polluting the environment, and electric cars derive their energy from coal plants. Millennials would be happy if all cars - everywhere - were powered by air, that invisible gaseous substance that envelopes the earth. The fact that air-powered cars have yet to be invented is not their problem.
3). Ditch non-traditional advertising. TV, radio and print ads are wasted on Millennials. If they are going to buy a car, marketing messages need to be witty, ironic and engaging. Viral car videos and celebrity endorsements from Daniel Craig or Jennifer Lopez are sure to move the needle among Millennials.
4). Cars need to cost around $5,000. That's a nice round number. Student debt, inflation and a shrinking manufacturing sector have taken the wind out of the Millennials' purchasing power and new cars are unaffordable for many young people. A $5,000 car would satisfy budget-conscious Millennials and leave enough spending money on the table for makeovers, designer clothes, clubbing and playing Xbox.
5). Do business electronically. Millennials love their iPads and smartphones - so much so that prying them away from their devices to test drive a vehicle or speak with a salesperson is so last century. Instead, they prefer to research and purchase cars on a smartphone from their comfort of their bedroom. The entire research/transaction process should take no longer than it does to upload the latest episode of Gossip Girl onto Netflix.
6). Automakers should be able to read minds. With the wealth of information and computing power available today, how difficult would it be for automakers to assess driving requirements and anticipate when Millennials are likely to purchase a car?
7) Cool features. Millennials spend a lot of time sipping lattes at their local Starbucks using the free Wi-Fi and so cars with Wi-Fi and coffee machines that refill themselves would be popular selling features.
8). Cars need more personality. In 2013, AutoTrader.com reported that 48 per cent of Millennials said that cars need to represent their personalities. Automakers should take this cue and design cars with introverted and extroverted features. For instance, an introverted car could include a meek sounding horn, tinted windows for privacy, modest grillwork and non-threatening headlights, whereas an extroverted car could be painted in Day-Glo orange and include mag wheels, rear fins, and flashy hood ornaments for maximum showiness.
I'm convinced that with enough effort and computing power, the auto industry will soon crack the enigma of the Millennial generation and that normal car buying patterns will return to the marketplace.