Luxury car dealers, do you know your audience? If you're like most that I've spoken to, you may be selling cars with the wool over your eyes, assuming that the affluent male is your crème de la crème, and some wealthy widows, female executives, and women entrepreneurs rounds out your market. But a recent study reveals that isn't the case, and as the CEO of AskPatty.com, a website dedicated to providing automotive resources to women and helping auto dealers like yourself attract and retain more female customers, it surprised me, too!
The Shullman Luxury, Affluence, and Wealth Pulse, Autumn 2014, has revealed some very intriguing findings on who is actually buying in the luxury market. First of all, it's not all affluent people. In fact, 61% of buyers with a household income of $250,000 or more don't own a luxury car! Interestingly, it seems that the Millennial generation of women are driving more luxury vehicles than one might assume. While most of us are targeting the older crowd, it seems that millennials are more interested in a luxury lifestyle than boomers or generation X members!
According to the study:
"The $75,000 - $249,999 affluent segment is the primary buyer of all the luxuries in consumer spending, including luxury vehicles. The second-largest buying segment for all luxuries was mass-market America (those with less than $75,000 in household income). The very high-income buyers (those with $250,000+ incomes), although fewer in number, typically spend the most on average for each luxury bought and tend to buy more luxuries per adult than the other two income segments ... The number one luxury buying generation today, according to this survey, is the Millennial generation (18-34 years of age in 2014) who constitute 45% of luxury buyers.”
So, let's take a moment to consider our target, the new target, the millennial woman!
Facts About the 18-34 Segment of Women Today
So, if we're going to be selling to millennial women, we need to understand how they operate. They're not baby boomers, and they're not Generation X, so those approaches are going to ring false with this group. It's also worth noting that, in my experience, these are women who are actively working in advertising much of the time, so the trite marketing methods are going to fall flat. They know all the tricks!
Today's millennial women are technologically connected, diverse, and educated. They prefer the speed and convenience of smart phones and email to telephone conversations or walk-in business. In terms of work, they tend to have more job market equality than previous generations, and are earning four year degrees at a higher rate than male counterparts. This higher income translates to higher overall household income for their families, and it also creates a new type of family – one where the mother is the sole breadwinner.
Millennial women share some things in common with boomers and Gen-X-ers. They are brand influencers who are quick to share their opinions with friends, family, and their online communities. A majority of social media outlets are predominantly made up of female users, and they speak their minds! Millennial women want to be included in the conversation, rather than being told what to do or what to purchase. They value inspirational messages, important causes, and most of all, they support brands who support them.
Marketing to the Meme Generation
When it comes to advertising to millennials, remember that this is the generation of the “meme.” That means that iconic, engaging visual marketing plays an important role in what resonates with them. Don't shy away from humor, and focus on making your messaging instantly accessible and simple. Ever explored Pinterest? It's just a wall of photos, but to the millennial women, it's a wall of ideas, conversations, and opportunities to do something amazing. Consider this: 58% look to Pinterest or Instagram for inspiration for everything from meals to makeup to home décor. Most of all, these women are “social shoppers,” social media users who value the opinions of their social media peers more than anonymous reviews or snappy slogans.
Cause-related marketing also works with millennial women, as long as you take care to ensure that your cause means something. They're quick to spot practices like “pink-washing” (that is, coloring a product pink for breast cancer awareness month, but not actually providing any meaningful support for the cause), so choose your charities wisely and remember that transparency is key! When you commit to a cause, it should embrace your entire company. For example, consider TOMS Shoes. Their message is clear, simple, cause-driven, and instantly accessible: for every pair of TOMS Shoes you buy, they will donate a pair to a child in need. This clear, concise message, coupled with transparency and accountability, has made the company absolutely huge with millennial women. To date, they have provided shoes to over 10 million children.
So let me ask you again, luxury car dealers: do you know your audience? Are you shifting your practices away from the older executives and widows to encompass the generation of Pinterest projects and Tumblr blogs? If you're not approaching your marketing plans with the goal of making instant accessibility the core of your brand, then you could be missing out on the number one buying segment of luxury vehicles today.