2019 is the first year in US history that the number of millennials surpassed the number of baby boomers. Today, there are about 79.8 million millennials in the U.S. (ages 23 to 38 in 2019), while the total number of baby boomers (ages 55 to 73 in 2019) is 74.1 million. As baby boomers reach their maximum earning potential and enter or approach retirement age, millennials are still young in their careers and are only getting started in their accumulation of wealth. By 2030, 1 in 5 US residents will be of retirement age, while most millennials will be in their prime working and spending years. What does this mean for the US economy? Baby boomers no longer hold the most powerful influence. The way businesses can stay ahead of competition is to cater toward the millennial generation. That starts with a better understanding of their expectations and behaviors.
Boomers are defined by the boom in US births following World War II, while millennials are often defined by leading the charge in digitization around the turn of the 21st century. In fact, technology is so ingrained in millennials’ lives that everyday actions evolved into new verbs like Googling, Venmoing, WhatsApping, Skyping, Tweeting, Instagramming, etc. On the other hand, boomers grew up in a society where staying in touch involved phone calls or letters (not texts or emails), file storage involved file cabinets (not cloud technology) and planning involved a physical calendar (not a Google calendar).
Marc Prensky, an education consultant, coined the terms ‘digital native’ and ‘digital immigrant’ in 2001 to categorize groups born before and after the widespread use of digital technology. Digital natives demand a world as mobile as they are, but with minimal wait time, minimal interaction and minimal thinking involved. Here’s what businesses, with a focus on vehicle purchasing, ownership and maintenance, need to know to stay ahead of the competition:
Don’t Make Me Wait
What is it about technology that is often so appealing? Instant access and quick responses. Growing up in a world with on-demand services (Netflix, Lyft, Uber, Amazon Prime, Airbnb) and instantaneous email or text confirmations, digital natives prioritize and expect instant gratification in almost all experiences. A computer science professor at UMass Amherst examined the viewing habits of 6.7 million internet users in 2013 and found that viewers begin to abandon a site if the video does not start up within two seconds. As we approach a 5G rollout, instant gratification will become even more important for consumers.
Millennial mindsets emphasize multi-tasking and being busy is seen as a badge of honor. “I want it all, and I want it now” is a guiding millennial principle. That’s why they need access to information and quick answers 24 hours a day, seven days a week to make their day-to-day life simpler and more efficient.
If your business operates within traditional operating hours, meeting the needs of millennial consumers 24/7 poses a challenge. Luckily, Openbay makes it possible for your business to operate more efficiently during AND after hours. Openbay Otis and Openbay Service Advisor put in the overtime for you, delivering fast, accurate and personalized quotes right when the consumer needs them the most. After just a few clicks, vehicle owners will have quick answers to their most pressing questions, making it more likely that those online visitors will convert into paying customers.
Don’t Make Me Call
Millennials avoid making phone calls like the plague. In fact, a 2018 Visible survey found that 78% of millennials would rather sign up for a phone plan with unlimited data and no calling over a plan with unlimited calling and no data. Ironically, a generation known for being glued to their phones is typically against using their phone to make or answer a call. BankMyCell surveyed 1,200 US millennials to find out why they ignore typically ignore an incoming call. The responses were in line with the “Don’t Make Me Wait” philosophy: answering a call is often inefficient, disruptive and time-consuming.
How can your business get new clients in the door without the hassle of a phone call? Openbay offers the platform and marketplace for drivers to compare quotes, read reviews, book an appointment and pay for their car care service all from their desktop, mobile device or tablet. All automotive service businesses can easily apply to join our marketplace. Once your business account is setup on the marketplace, Openbay responds to consumer service requests with detailed pricing estimates that include parts, labor, taxes, and repair time. Service quotes are generated on behalf of your business using your labor rates, margins on OE and aftermarket parts and more. You can validate our quotes during your account setup.
Don’t Make Me Think
Information overload can be paralyzing. In our increasingly connected world, finding an answer is not the problem. The difficulty lies in finding the RIGHT answer and knowing where to start. A 2015 Delvv Mobile survey revealed that 41 percent of millennials struggle with information overload versus 31 percent of previous generations (baby boomers and Gen-X). Millennials want quick responses but they don’t want to spend too much time sifting through tons of sources to get the right answers or find the right product or service to purchase (remember their “I want it all, and I want it now” philosophy). Instead, they rely heaving on word-of-mouth and internet searches to point them in the right direction. According to Synchrony, 82% of millennials rely on word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchase decisions and 90% of millennials research product reviews online before making a purchase.
What does this mean for your business? Communicating your value at the right time and through the right channels is increasingly important in the age of digitization. Millennials are more skeptical of traditional advertising than previous generations, which means that they will often turn to customer reviews to make an informed purchasing decision. In addition to unbiased reviews, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and a social media presence will increase the chances of your business getting discovered by a customer looking for the services you provide. If you’re new to a city or you know little to nothing about cars, you may turn to Google to search “find a mechanic near me”. Openbay can help you expand your digital presence and increase exposure to potential customers with an online business profile to complement or replace your business website. Auto shops on the Openbay Marketplace will also have another opportunity to showcase customer reviews to customers with an immediate need for car care.
Modern businesses are responding to the largest generation by giving them what they want – digital freedom. It’s no surprise that tech startups like Lyft, Uber, Airbnb, Slack, Pinterest, Postmates and WeWork are some of the biggest IPOs to watch in 2019. Millennials want the world at their fingertips without having to think, wait or call.
Check out Part II: ‘Adulting’: How Millennials Are Shaping Auto Trends Part II and stay tuned to Openbay Overdrive for Part III.