Change is inevitable. In the auto industry, change is a continuous effort to foster improvements that align with consumer needs. We, as marketers, must first ask ourselves “who’s buying cars these days and why?” According to New Media and Marketing, baby boomers are still the driving force behind new car sales.
After determining the demographics of your market, the next logical question is “what do my consumers want?” As we all know, the recession fundamentally changed the way people viewed car-buying. Many consumers were holding onto their cars longer and opting to perform car repairs themselves. Ad Age reported a 6% rise in sales in 2009 for AutoZone, a commercial auto parts retailer, at a time when most companies were struggling to stay in business. Though the economy has and continues to improve, the “frugality” of the consumer holds strong. Many consumers are still driving their cars longer, but are also opting to purchase used cars when it’s time to trade up. Those who are looking for cars have particular needs. According to ConsumerReports.org, “two thirds of car buyers expect their next model to provide much or somewhat better fuel economy.” Auto buyers are focusing not only on the initial purchase, but the long-term expenses.
Now, the next question is “who will be buying cars tomorrow?” This is where marketers and product developers fall off. Meeting today’s consumer needs will secure sales for today. One must meet the future needs of consumers to ensure enduring sustainability. With an 11% increase in auto sales this year, how do you capture your share of market? We say the source of volume will come from millennials, particularly minority millennials. There are 86 million millennials with $1.3 trillion in spending power. Why are we not aggressively pursuing a share of that spending? We must market for tomorrow to ensure long-term profits.
In short: give them what they want. Know which consumers are driving your innovation and focus product development around these consumers. Millennials are focused on product innovation in every aspect: fuel efficiency, electronic syncing capabilities, and modern vehicle designs will be the driving forces behind a car’s success or failure in the future automotive consumer market.