Automotive brands are adapting their marketing strategies to reach millennials who now make up the largest part of the automotive market. To engage these tech-savvy consumers – who over the past decade were particularly ambivalent about car ownership – more and more car marketers are embracing social media and other mobile platforms.
Live broadcast events, digital content partnerships, and augmented and virtual reality (AR / VR) experiences are some of the ways in which automotive brands showcase their latest models. As they work through the ongoing disruption of the pandemic, they will continue to rely on these promotional strategies to engage consumers who are spending more time with connected devices like smartphones. Over 80% of auto brands on Twitter have hosted a virtual vehicle launch or are planning to do so this year, according to the social media company.
“Model launches usually rely on this grandiose experiential marketing plan. “The way to move forward more effectively is through digital advertising, especially on social media and video on channels like YouTube and connected TV. “
Automotive culture lives
This digital switchover reflects the habits of millennials who grew up using the Internet to shop. They were among the early adopters of smartphones, social media, streaming services, and mobile payments. Initially, millennials had shown a greater reluctance than older generations to buy cars, which helped support the growth of app-based businesses like Uber and Lyft, which made ridesharing more feasible. .
However, claims that millennials “killed car culture” began to fade as the cohort matured, built careers, started families, and needed transportation. Their growing purchasing power – combined with the size of the generation, which last year was estimated at 72.1 million people in the United States – has made them key targets for automotive brands. Last year, millennials made up around 29% of car buyers and are expected to become the largest segment of the auto market with more than 30% this year, according to Experian Automotive.
“The way to move forward more effectively is through digital advertising, especially on social media and video on channels like YouTube and connected TV. “
Senior Director of National Accounts, PureCars
Data from Experian shows that the younger Gen Z currently comprises around 4% of car buyers, making them less of a priority for dealerships. However, as Gen Z ages and more of the cohort begins to buy cars, brands may continue to shift their activities to social media like Snapchat and TikTok which are more popular with younger consumers.
Millennials cord cutters
The current focus on millennials comes as they drive the cutting edge trend that makes it harder for marketers to reach them through traditional channels like linear TV. The pandemic has accelerated the trend as households have connected their TVs directly to the Internet to watch streaming videos. Google’s YouTube was among the platforms that benefited from the trend, with ad revenue surging 49% to $ 19.8 billion last year.
“One in three millennials is a cable cutter, so there is unprecedented visibility or reach on platforms like YouTube and for digital advertising in general,” Donalson said.
Because digital platforms provide near instant visualization metrics, automotive marketers can adjust their campaigns faster based on real-time performance.
“With digital, you can get the instant gratification of knowing what those ad spend are doing,” Donalson said. “You’re going to see an influx of traffic to your website, or an influx of leads who are the pulse of a dealership’s performance. In the case of manufacturers, they’re going to see an influx of pre-orders for a model they’re launching. “
Among the more recent auto campaigns, Hyundai collaborated with National Geographic on its first co-branded AR series last month to promote the automaker’s electric and hybrid vehicles. The series, titled “Outside Academy,” urges people to explore national parks virtually and physically while showcasing more eco-friendly models like the 2021 Santa Fe HEV, Tucson PHEV, and Ioniq 5.
Earlier this year, Toyota worked with four creators to develop original content for the social media platform Pinterest to showcase its 2021 Sienna minivan. The campaign aimed to change attitudes towards minivans -vans, positioning the Sienna as a “third space” between home and office amid the pandemic’s continuing disruption in daily life.
These campaigns aim to engage potential car buyers who want the same amenities from dealerships that they expect from e-commerce sites. The increase in online shopping during the pandemic may have a lasting effect on consumer behavior, challenging resellers to engage people on the mobile and digital platforms where they already spend time.
“The pandemic has forced dealerships to come to the customer, which the customer has wanted for years,” Donalson said. “More of the transaction can be done and facilitated online, while less of the transaction requires interfacing with the people at the dealership.”