Generation Y customers know what they want, and know how they want it. The demographic, born between the late 1970s and mid-1990s, represents an increasing percentage of the current car-buying population.
By 2012, Gen Y will account for 40% of the car-buying population, according to a study conducted by Deloitte.
Certainly, technology in the market has changed dramatically in the past few years, enabling consumers to extensively research vehicles before they even step foot onto dealership lots. In fact, used-car buyers spend 18 hours researching before purchasing: seven hours offline and 11 hours online, according to a study by AutoTrader and R.L. Polk.
The consumer, and in this case, a Gen-Yer, is more knowledgeable than ever before and controls more of the purchasing transaction.
In a recent webinar, Stu Zalud, director of dealer services at NADA Used Car Guide, attempted to explain how important transparency and the overall shopping experience are to this specific clientele.
“Changes that have been caused by the internet and access to information have certainly created a tremendous need to reevaluate the processes and [car-buying] procedures,” he said.
BMW Financial Services, for one, is piloting a program to use iPads outside the F&I office to expedite loan-decisioning. The goal: to make things more mobile and to keep customers out of the F&I office ― and, instead, standing next to their potential new car. Mercedes-Benz Financial, meanwhile, implemented iPads at the dealership a year ago to bolster vehicle sales.
Like BMW, Zalud believes that moving more of the transaction online will help in today’s market. “Gen-Y tends to respond well to touch-screen menus,” he said.
What better way to satisfy that than with mobile applications and iPads outside in the lot?
Zalud believes it is important to “turn the buying process into a fun online social experience, making the purchase easier and more convenient.” He, too, is working on an interactive and mobile program with NADA to help with the appraisal process.
“Gen-Yers are no nonsense consumers, and they want straight answers,” he said. “The winners are going to be the people who can clearly understand the need to do it a little bit differently.”