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How Generation Y Will Affect The Automotive Industry
Its common for people to attempt to toss aside the ideals of their parents, and create their own set of rules by which to live by. If this wasn’t the case, we would all be wearing the same clothes, listening to the same music, and acting in the same way as our grandparents. But with every new Generation, there comes a new way of life, and new ways of thinking about life.
This may very well be the biggest problem the automotive industry must face in the coming years. As Babyboomers, or the Silver Tsunami as marketers like to put it, begin to make the last big purchases of their life, car manufacturers will need to switch up both the products they offer, as well as their marketing focus. The reason being, simply put, is that the game will change.
Babyboomers: The Open Road Mentality
Babyboomers lived in a time of making love and not war. When social injustices needed to be fought, and music was the language used for change. But they also grew up when cars were big, gas was cheap, and the roads, compared to today, were relatively empty. As they aged, they kept the mindset of how a car represented freedom. How at any moment, you could hit the road and be free to go where you want, when you want. Their vehicles were also their toys and a representation of themselves. As such, it makes sense that this ideal wasn’t lost upon them as the decades rolled by. You can see this idea being used by car manufacturers today, with new versions of the Mustang and Corvette, as well as a slew of other originally Babyboomer vehicles. You rarely hear any other person from a different generation exclaiming how they need the new Nissan Z. But Babyboomers will recall the original Nissan Z, and the nostalgia shows with their purchasing trends.
Generation X: A Growing Population With Limited Resources
Now with Generation X, there is a different trend. They are more aware of the ever growing population, the limited resources on our planet, as well as being concerned with environmental issues. For them, they may have had a glimpse of what the open road was, but certainly knew that it wouldn’t last. Gas efficiency, alternative fuels, and alternative modes of transportation, as well as their impact on the environment were their major concerns. This would be the reason why Hybrids and EVs were created, as when there is a demand, money is to be made by those who can supply it.
Generation Y: Significantly More Savvy Than Grandpa
But it is going to be those a part of Generation Y that truly dictate where the automotive industry must head in the future. Babyboomers will no longer be buying cars en masse, and those a part of Generation X will be buying vehicles that are economical and efficient. But Generation Y’ers will have grown up in a time when a better public transportation system will have been in place, and the vehicles their parents drive are vastly different than their grandparents. Autonomous vehicles will also most likely be in play as we are now seeing that technology forging forward. Not to mention, how many Generation X’ers choose to ride their bicycle rather than drive? This was much less known and prevalent decades prior.
Add to this, Generation Y’ers are extremely savvy. They will have spent most of their life in a time when the interent was readily available, and information has always been at their finger tips. In essence, they have grown much more independent at an earlier age than any generation prior. I’ve seen young teenagers taking buses well before they were even close to being able to drive. I’ve heard other teenagers mention how there is no need or reason to own a car, and that they can get around just fine without it. They also don’t have the urge to hit the open road, because they will have seldom seen one. A car, to them, does not represent freedom as it did for generations prior. Their freedom came in the form of information, not transportation.
It is with this idea that car manufacturers need to change their way of thinking, because a paradigm shift will, if it already hasn’t, occur. How do you sell something that no one feels a great need for? When people won’t be able, nor want to pay the high cost of fuel? When they won’t want to drive in traffic for hours because there are simply too many vehicles on the road? When parking becomes a larger hassle than it already is? Technology is continually advancing, and Generation Y’ers know that already in their young age. They won’t be able to settle on using old technology when they know there are better, faster, more efficient alternatives available. They also won’t have the nostalgia for vehicles that generations prior grew up with.
The winds of change are certainly howling, and if car manufacturers don’t set their sails correctly and catch this wind just right, they may well be left behind. There is no doubt that at some point in the future, cars as we know them will be outdated. Like a horse and buggy, they’ll be little more than relics. But that time has not arrived, and to stay with the times, car manufacturers are going to need to be clever. But this will no doubt occur once a few Generation X’ers and Y’ers take the reigns and steer the industry in the right direction.