We talk so much about the baby boomers, the largest segment of the U.S. population right now. But do you know who makes up the second largest segment? They're 83 million Americans strong, and make up 50 percent of the 18-to-49 demographic. They're called millennials, those born between 1977 and 1996 (though some reports say 1980 to 2000).
You may have heard them called Generation Y, the Digital Generation or the Nintendo Generation. The youngest are 12 years old; the oldest are 31. They are the babies of the boomers.
The millennials are arriving in the workplace with higher expectations than any generation before them because of how they've been treated by their parents (having a say in family decisions at a very young age), society (through targeted marketing messages) and the technology (digital toys and communication) available to them. You probably have some millennials working in your dealership.
According to research conducted by the advertising firm Draft FCB, adjectives that define this generation are optimistic, indulged, empowered, egocentric, educated, entitled and ambitious. Because of all the personalized technology available to them (cell phones, iPods, smart phones, video games) they demand choice and personalization, making their way through the world on their terms.
Why are millennials important to you? Because it's the next group of buyers you need to be catering to, and if you're not aware of how their minds work, you'll miss the boat. Millennials have a short attention span; you have one chance to catch their eye, and it must be done on their terms or they'll lose interest fast.
If you sell dirtbikes, sportbikes or sport ATVs, you're already aware of this group, as male millennials gravitate toward these motorsports genres.
But what about the female millennials? While they're not the largest segment of women motorcycle buyers (the majority of women riders are between ages 41 to 50), female millennials represent an important demographic in terms of their influence and loyalty — the same characteristics that make their mothers and aunts so important to motorcycling.
Millennials grew up with a different set of social values where being a woman in a man's world is not such a big deal. Gender differences are less pronounced. Why do you think we're seeing so many young women and girls riding motocross these days? Today's young women see no barriers in adventure sports. They were not raised with the knowledge of women as the inferior sex.
While you're just becoming educated on selling to women, you should be able to differentiate when a millennial walks through your door and be mindful of characteristics specific to her.
Millennials are... 1. Prematurely affluent. They are poised to become the next great luxury consumers. According to research by Draft FCB, 77 percent believe they can rely on friends or family to help them financially. What this means for you: Don't assume that because they're young, they can't or won't buy a high-dollar motorcycle. 2. Fickle consumers. They want the latest, hottest thing right now. What this means to you: Be sure to show them the hottest thing that just rolled into your showroom, no matter the price. Also, make them aware of all the ways they can customize a motorcycle. It's all about personalization with millennials. 3. Socially conscious. They grew up on play dates; now they indulge in MySpace and Facebook. They have an ongoing need for feedback and relationship maintenance. Be sure to get their contact information and keep in touch before and after the sale. If not, they'll check out and move on to the next dealership that does pay attention to them. 4. Most confident. These women grew up knowing no barriers, so they have a healthy level of confidence and self-esteem. They think nothing of coming in and buying a GSX-R750 or even a Hayabusa after having just taken the MSF class. A dealer shared this with me.
Millennials may seem complex, unlike the predictability of boomers, but once you understand who they are and what they want, motorcycling is one activity that can be easily marketed in a way that can play into and capture the millennial desire for more choices, more experiences, more customization, more power and more participation.
Take a look at your dealership and see how you can adapt certain aspects so when a millennial woman — or man — walks through your door, you're ready.