Lang Aftermarket iReport: Millennials eclipse Baby Boomers
“Millennials (born 1985 to 2000) bypassed Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) during 2015 to become the largest generation of the U.S. population. The Millennial generation continues to grow, boosted by young immigrants entering the U.S., while Baby Boomers are in a steady and irreversible decline.
“Millennials have a number of values that differ from those of Baby Boomers, some of which have significant aftermarket implications.”
— Jim Lang, publisher, Lang Aftermarket iReport
Millennials Are the Dominant Generation
The Millennial generation topped 72 million during 2015, surpassing Baby Boomers for the first time, by a margin topping 100,000.
The Millennial population continues to increase, bolstered by the influx of young immigrants, and currently ranges in age from 20 to 35, significantly younger than Baby Boomers, who now are between 54 and 74 years old.
There are approximately 74 million Millennials in 2020 compared to 68 million Baby Boomers. By 2025, there will be even more Millennials, an estimated 76 million (bolstered by immigration) versus the shrinking population of 63 million Baby Boomers.
Millennials and Baby Boomers have different values, which can cause them to see the world in different ways. Some of these value differences have relevance to the aftermarket and will impact it in a number of important ways in the coming year.
Automobile Love Affair Over
Many Millennials do not share the Baby Boomers’ famous love affair with the automobile. Baby Boomers as teenagers could not wait to get a driver’s license, a kind of rite of passage, and to own an automobile, which for many became an extension of their personality.
In contrast, many Millennials are delaying driving, with up to one-third of Americans under 19 currently without a driver’s license.
Millennials use social media and other Internet resources more often than Baby Boomers to make a wide range of aftermarket buying decisions.
Millennials are much more likely than Baby Boomers to use Internet resources and social media to determine what is wrong with their vehicles, explore repair costs, and find service outlets.
This makes Millennials less loyal than Baby Boomers to specific repair outlets. Millennials are much more likely than Baby Boomers to have preconceived opinions (sometimes incorrect) about what is wrong with their vehicle and the repair costs when going to a service outlet.
Less Hands-on Automotive Knowledge
Baby Boomers, because of their interest in vehicles, generally had more hands-on mechanical knowledge of vehicles when they were 20 to 35 years old than Millennials do today.
In contrast, Millennials’ mechanical knowledge of automobiles generally comes from the Internet.
Price can play an important role in the purchase decision of Millennials. This reflects the fact that Millennials are the first generation in recent U.S. history to enter adulthood in worse economic shape than their parents were.
This can make Millennials more likely than Baby Boomers to question the pricing of repair outlets.
Millennials’ attitudes about repair prices are often reinforced by Internet sites that provide information on what repairs are needed to fix a vehicle and the cost of these repairs.
Since Baby Boomers do not rely on computer resources nearly as often as Millennials (at least regarding vehicle repair decisions) this difference between Millennials and Baby Boomers will continue.
These characteristics of Millennials make them much different automotive repair customers from Baby Boomers.
These differences must be taken into account by service outlets and auto parts stores in how they relate to Millennials.
Six Major Takeaways
- In 2015, Millennials (born 1985 to 2000) eclipsed Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) as the largest generation in the U.S., and the gap continues to grow.
- Millennials do not share the Baby Boomers’ famous love affair with the automobile. Millennials see vehicles from a utilitarian perspective and have little ego-involvement in the vehicles that they drive.
- There are significant differences in how Millennials and Baby Boomers make aftermarket buying decisions. Millennials are much more likely than Baby Boomers to use social media and other Internet resources to explore what is wrong with their vehicles, how much repairs should cost, and where to have repairs performed.
- Price can be very important in shaping Millennials’ decisions regarding aftermarket purchases, reflecting the fact that Millennials are the first generation in recent U.S. history to enter adulthood in worse economic shape than did their parents.
- Millennials generally are more likely than Baby Boomers to have preconceived notions of what is wrong with their vehicles and what repairs should cost when going to a repair outlet.
- Millennials are more likely than Baby Boomers to view vehicles from a utilitarian perspective. This has significant consequences for consumer acceptance of driverless vehicles and transportation as a service (TaaS), as well as other potential developments in the fast-changing mobility market.
Copyright 2020 by Lang Marketing Resources, Inc.
NOTE: Special thanks to publisher Jim Lang for granting us permission to publish the Lang Aftermarket iReport.