Millennials + Cars?

Millennials don’t care about owning cars and car makers can’t figure out why…there’s a headline that caught my eye.

Written by Darren Ross in Fast Company’s newsletter, here are some interesting stats:

  • The number of cars purchased by people 18-34 years old fell almost 30%.

According to new research, younger millennials are actually engaged and highly motivated.  For example, of more than 1600 college students surveyed:

  • A full 96% were focused on making money to curtail their tuition and other college expenses.
  • Nearly 30% needed to make $4,000 or more for the summer.
  • Nearly 50% of students were engaging in some form of “paid internship,” in an effort to gain both pay and valuable job experience.

Perhaps it’s a sign of maturity that this next generation of consumers doesn’t feel the need to define themselves by their cars, but instead more by what they say, share, capture, and create. But what auto manufacturers and other consumer brand companies need to be thinking is, “How can I help them say, share, capture, and create more?” They can start by gaining a better understanding of the millennial consumer, their interests and behaviors, to fully engage with them in their world. This will help identify and/or create situations and niche opportunities where car use and ownership is an advantage. Then they can extend the dialogue to younger millennials in particular, reaching them to create a new definition of freedom and empowerment for a new generation.

From a strategic design perspective, car companies need to re-think what their value proposition is to a group of consumers who are a new generation of thinkers and doers.  This means keen observation and deriving creative insights from watching and engaging millennials.

And more power to the generation that is thinking differently about what defines them — I take it as a hugely hopeful sign.

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