The prevailing thought is that young car buyers are interested in primarily in new vehicles laden with technology of convenience: Bluetooth-enabled connections that allow drivers to respond to emails, get directions at the push of a button and listen to the song they can’t get out of their heads.
Chevrolet is betting that same group will be willing to use “technology of convenience” not only when they’re behind the wheel, but also in order to get behind the wheel: as in buying the car.
The brand created ChevySmallCars.com, an online tool to help younger consumers find and consider smaller, less expensive models like the Sonic, Spark and Trax.
“The Spark, Sonic and Trax all target a younger, more socially savvy buyer,” said Steve Majoros, Chevrolet director of cars and crossovers.
“When we looked at reasons for purchase, cross consideration and demographics, we found a number of similarities. By aligning these products we can be more strategic and create more engaging, sharable content that speaks directly to this audience.”
According to Chevy officials, those three vehicles are most likely to be purchased by first-time new car buyers. Finding ways to grow the sales of those models is important. Currently, the three account for 6.7% of Chevrolet’s U.S. sales of 656,172 this year through April.
The Trax, a subcompact crossover, is up 39%, but it’s not surprising as crossovers and SUV sales are on the rise across the board.
However, Sonic and Spark sales are down 11% and 36%, respectively – again, mirroring the current trend of small call sales being sluggish due to low gas prices.
(Millennials interest in new vehicles rises with technology available. For more, Click Here.)
GM’s plan to stimulate sales among first-time buyers is to get them where they live: with technology. The highly interactive site walks potential buyers through a series of questions designed to help them find their perfect vehicle. Called “Find your Smallmate” it’s one three webisodes on the site that promote the fun and functionality of Chevy’s small offerings … some of which may be unfamiliar to younger buyers.
“We’ve introduced a lot of new vehicles in the last few years and the new website is a great way to expose a portion of our portfolio that not everyone knows about,” Majoros said.
Chevy plans to expand the number of webisodes and add functional tools to the site, including one that allows users to customize a vehicle with a variety of whimsical features to customize their small car such as rabbit ears, cool designs and backgrounds and then share it on social media.
Automakers, including Chevy and the other brands under the General Motors umbrella, have been trying to make online buying more palatable than trudging to the dealership for decades with little success.
Early on, the process was cumbersome. The next issue was that folks still wanted to kick tires. However, over time, automakers have clued in on the fact that younger buyers are more willing to buy cars online. Gen X and Gen Y buyers have very few hang ups about making online purchases.
They buy music, clothes and a host of other consumer goods with the click of a track pad, vehicles – automakers hope – should not be much different. The timing may not be better as Millennials appear to be more and more interested in new vehicles.
(Click Here for details about why Millennials are in a car-buying frenzy.)
“The notion that Millennials are not interested in buying a car is being turned on its head,” said Mike Cetera, Bankrate’s personal loans and credit analyst. “This is starting to shift from what we’ve seen before.”
Renewed urbanization and an interest in transportation alternatives, including everything from bicycles to car-sharing services, have been cited as explanation. But auto industry studies have hinted at change to come, suggesting that Millennials may simply be a little slower off the line than prior generations: moving out from home later, getting married at an older age, and waiting longer to drive.
The shattering impact of the Great Recession didn’t help either, according to economic experts, disproportionately hammer Millennials with higher college debt and higher unemployment rates.
But as they age, and with the economy now in significantly better shape, Millennials appear to now have more cash and be more willing to spend it, if the Bankrate study is any indication. The research covered both car-buying and home improvements, and found members of Gen-Y, as a group, have big plans in the works.
The study, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates, found that group more likely to both do work on the home and buy a car than any other generation over the next 12 months.
(To find out more about why Generation Z may be the key to continued record auto sales, Click Here.)
About 24% of Millennials, aged 18 to 29, said they will buy a car sometime during the next 12 months, noted analyst Cetera.