A trend developing among GenZ drivers could prove to be a concern to auto dealers. This customer base, (born between 1996-2007) seems less interested in driving than previous generations.
The Federal Highway Administration has backed this claim with data analyzed by Green Car Congress. Data shows the percentage of American 18-year-olds who had a driver’s license in 2018 fell nearly 20% from 1983. (80% to 61%)
The popularity of ride-sharing services may also play a role. Uber, for example, generated $31.8 billion in revenue in 2022, an 82% increase from the previous year. This is largely driven by young consumers, as 55% of Uber users are between 16 and 34.
Uber Users by Age
But the supposed anti-driving stance of GenZ needs a second glance.
Bloomberg News recently published an article stating the drop in young drivers has more to do with vehicle affordability than altruistic environmentalism.
As the Bloomberg article states, 10 years ago there were similar concerns regarding Millennials rejecting car culture. But, as that generation moved on, got married, and had kids, vehicles became an unavoidable necessity. Many of the pundits who predicted the demise of Millennial car shopping in 2012 did a quick about-face as quickly as 2015:
“They’re (Millennials) heading to the dealership, just like their parents,” Derek Thompson admitted in a 2015 article in TheAtlantic, three years after he and a coauthor asserted that Millennials would “almost certainly be a less-driving [generation].”
“Inconveniently,” Thompson wrote in his follow-up, “reality is messing with our prediction.”
If Millennials had an about-face in their driving habits, it stands to reason GenZ likely will as well. Eventually, a large portion will marry, have kids and move to the suburbs. Long-term, they are likely to evolve in their vehicle use similar to the Millennial generation.
The key to succeeding with this generation will be to develop a deeper understanding of who is pro-auto ownership, who can afford new vehicles, and who is being held back by economic realities. Auto dealers can then tailor their marketing approach to pinpoint which customers fall into which categories and match the inventory with their needs.
MarketAI is the right platform to assist auto dealers in navigating the GenZ market. MarketAI helps dealers gain a competitive advantage with real-time pricing, turn rates, market share, and model velocity data. It also features access to the largest active shopper database available 24/7, and with automated marketing campaign optimizations driven by machine learning and ZeroSum’s proprietary algorithms, dealers can test what works and adjust nearly on the fly.
One way dealers can use MarketAI to effectively reach potential GenZ customers is to develop campaigns for older model used vehicles. If affordability is truly an issue for GenZ customers, highlighting a dealership’s older inventory can be the bait to attract the GenZ fish.
Ultimately, getting GenZ into the dealership can lead to a long-term relationship. By starting them with a used vehicle sale, continuing into a service relationship, and hopefully progressing to a certified pre-owned or new vehicle purchase, auto dealers have the ability to service GenZ as they move through all stages in life.
Dealers who listen to the media hype – GenZ doesn’t like the auto industry – will be ignoring a very important and potentially long-term customer segment. Matching used vehicle inventory to their needs today can yield great results in the long run. MarketAI is the best place to start.
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