How to get millennials: 6 marketing tips for auto dealers and leasing companies

Data: 2016.12.22

  Author Agneta Venckute  


Millennials, the generation born approximately in the 1982’s – 2000’s, are becoming today’s main purchasing power. They bought 35% more new cars during 2015 than in 2011, bringing their current market share for new cars to 11.2% (Source: According to, automotive lease applications grew 7% a year, with an overall 49% increase in the number of millennials with lease contracts in 2012 – 2016 Q2.  In general, millennials made up more than a third of all auto loans in 2015, according to Dealertrack, and they tend to change vehicles more often: 6 out of 10 millennials purchase a new car every three years, while the market average is 4 out of 10 (source: Dealertrack).  Millennials are particularly interested in leasing brands such Ram, GMC, Lexus, Jaguar, Cadillac, Buick, Subaru, Scion, Mini and Acura. (2015 data provided by How should we design our marketing in order to get their attention?

1. Your online presence on third-party websites…

The 2015 Polk Automotive Buyer Influence Study states that 88% of millennials use the internet to research the item they desire to purchase, and currently, this is the most influential media source. It is important to note that an online search takes 2-3X more time than an actual visit to a dealer. While looking for the information on a car, car buyers use a variety of sites for shopping, although third-party sites are the most used out of all online resources. As many as 78 % of buyers rely on the opinion given by third-party websites. Take this into consideration, and make sure that your ads circulate right there.

2. …and your video content

The Millward Brown Digital and Polk 2015 report on automotive buyer paths showed that consumers increasingly tend to turn to YouTube before a test drive. Automotive-related content on YouTube is popular in general: watched by 1 out of 3 adults in the U.S. once per month. Millennials choose to watch test drives, walk-arounds, feature highlights, reviews, and safety videos. Mobile video especially drives in-market consumers to take action: after watching content about cars, trucks, or racing on a smartphone, 1 in 4 will visit a dealer.  That is worth considering when planning your social media strategy, as industry social media has in general a very low conversion rate. Only 1% of prospects would contact you prior coming to the dealership and 3% would send you an email. Video material could be the hook that helps you in this case.

3. Sell status. State cause

As we all know, cars belong to the category of purchases that carry a deep personal meaning for people. Most millennials buy a car not because of real need but because of desire. According to Edmunds’ research, our beloved millennials are not only opting to lease vehicles at higher rates than the overall car-buying population, but they also want bigger, more luxurious cars. Make sure your marketing message express that. Other than that, millennials tend to support their beliefs during the purchase. Millennial marketing research showed that almost half of the millennials would be willing to make a purchase from a company if their purchase supports a cause, even if they had to pay more. Does your company currently support any causes?

4. Splendid first impression for the prospect

First impressions are crucial, and not only in dating. The fact that 38% of car buyers visit only one dealership, and 52% only test drive one vehicle prior to purchasing, tells us one thing – being the first dealer they visit gives us a huge chance to sell on the spot. Are your salesmen well prepared? Can we go for a test ride now?

5. The customer is always: right and busy

Time is becoming the most valuable asset, and we all know that everyone hates waiting. Our millennial customers are no exception. According Cox Automotive research, out of all car purchasing stages (the first being 13-15 hours of researching), customers find the purchasing process, the very last step, to be the least satisfying, as it is too time consuming (56% satisfaction rate). Offering the fastest way to serve your customers may become your biggest service advantage.

6. Track them to save money

Conventional wisdom states: only half of marketing works, but which half is a mystery. More than half of all car buyers do not contact the dealership prior to their first visit, so it is not clear how they find out about you. It is becoming crucial to have effective sourcing and CRM systems to register the prospects and daily physical traffic. Knowing which of your marketing efforts made the deal happen will be a tremendous help for you in directing your marketing money to the one that is most effective for you, and profiting from it.


Overall, millennials are technology lovers, and you should not forget this at any point in your marketing strategy creation. Use video content marketing if you have not before, and consider expanding your content marketing to third-party automotive websites. Paying a lot of attention to customer service, and making your company stand out from others by supporting a cause, will possibly lead you to making more sales and leasing contracts. And think about installing your CRM system, if you have not got one already – it will definitely make your whole marketing and sales process more efficient.