Millennials listen to their friends, J.D. Power study finds

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J.D. Ney, automotive analyst, who directed this year’s Consumer Retail Experience Study, says analysts took a look at the results from the point of view of the age of the respondents, in particular, the 25 to 34-year-olds, or Millennials.

Study results indicate that younger vehicle buyers experience the shopping process differently. One of the prime drivers when it comes to choosing a dealer, he says is a recommendation from a friend of family member.

The study, which surveys vehicle owners’ experience in the first 90 days of ownership of their second vehicle, would have had less merit if J.D. Power had sought out people who were first-time owners, he says. After all, where else would rookie car buyers look if not look to their friends?

He says this result is stands out in contrast to older owners who will rely on their own experience unless they have had a bad experience in the showroom floor or in the service department.

The study was performed between June and September last year. Those surveyed were those who had purchased a new 2002-2013 between March and June 2012. Nearly 12,000 or over 10 per cent of those called responded. The age group breakdowns were as follows: 18 to 34-years old, 18.4 per cent; 35 to 44 years old, 20.4 per cent; 45 to 54 years old, 25.8 per cent; 55 to 64 years old 20.5 per cent and 65+ years old, 14.9 per cent.

The study found that Millennials were the least likely demographic to declare loyalty to the store where they bought their car or had it serviced. And they’re harder to please “given their penchant for exhaustively researching automotive purchases online,” the survey concludes.

“Millennials still look to recommendations. What this analysis is pointing to is that the days of easily attained loyalty are in the past. There is no automatic loyalty,” Ney adds.

If the dealership is looking for an advocate amongst its Millennial customers, someone to spread the word, their dealership experience had better be top drawer, the survey found.

“If you score 10 out of 10 with them, they will share the recommendations. If not, they won’t. In other words, if you want to get those recommendations, you have to do the sort of things that will turn that person into an advocate for the dealership.”

He says dealers who believe this is simply the old-fashioned principle of word-of-mouth in action are right. But social media has endowed users with more friends and influence. They can broadcast their opinions to more people. So the opinions of this demographic and their clout cannot be underestimated.

But he cautions dealers needn’t go out of their way to learn how to communicate with these buyers the way they had to with women.

“It’s really no different from selling to anyone else. Age doesn’t matter,” Ney says.