Of Course Millennials Bypass Social Media When Shopping for Cars

Just read an article on The Truth About Cars website which expounds on the idea that millennials do not use social media to shop for cars. The article is in reference to an AutoTrader.com study which suggests that only five percent of Millennials used social media to shop for vehicles. Findings of the study were published by the Automotive News in an article titled, “Even millennials bypass social media during car-buying journey.”

This led me to wonder why the Automotive News, which I read religiously, would publish such a placid piece that emphasizes that particular finding from the study when there was other more important information to cite. Of course Millennials don’t use social media to shop for cars. Nobody does!

Car Buying MillennialsCould it be because AutoTrader.com is an advertiser? Or maybe because the author, David Barkholz, wants to express his opinion?

My problem is not with the study, which was conducted by IHS Automotive. AutoTrader.com needs data that sheds light on auto shopping so that it can adapt its business model. But AutoTrader.com also can not be empirical about the subject of auto shopping because, like any site of this type it must always validate its own role in the car buying process.

The concern here is more about why the Automotive News framed the findings of the study the way that it did. Why did it emphasize that one particular finding. Not even AutoTrader.com did that. Look at the infographic which states at the top:

Millennials accelerate change in the car buying process. As Millennials age into the largest car buying cohort, automotive advertisers need to know how they shop.

This would have been a much more appropriate way for Automotive News to present the study. Now we have sites like The Truth About Cars taking the bait and recirculating a statistic that quite frankly means very little and only supports the agenda of classified sites.

According to the press release, a total of 1,900 car buyers within the past year were surveyed between December 2013 and February 2014. The sample included about 300 millennials. Key findings from the study include:

  • Millennials take longer to make their purchase decision
  • Traditional media is aging out
  • Social media is rarely used and not impactful
  • Mobile rules with Millennials
  • Millennials are leading the decline in desktop/laptop usage for car shopping
  • Half of Millennials used a smartphone to shop for a car

Also in this press release is the following quote:

“As dealers and OEMs look to capture the attention of Millennials in 2014 and beyond, the importance of mobile cannot be emphasized enough,”Isabelle Helms, Vice President of Research and Market Intelligence at AutoTrader.com, continued. “Automotive advertisers who don’t start putting mobile first could be at risk of coming in last.”

Based on this I would say that the big takeaway from this study was Millennials’ use of mobile during the car buying process. Why Automotive News is drawing attention to the most meaningless finding in the study is a peculiarity to me.

Click to view infographic

Click to view infographic


About the Author

Ryan Gerardi
Creative, resourceful, and resilient B2B sales and marketing technologist who works with people and businesses on a variety of levels to help elevate their game, their brand, and their businesses.
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