Monday, June 4, 2012
The automobile has always been a symbol freedom, of independence and in many ways America. Growing up having a used car meant having your own life, freedom and was a sort of coming-of-age type thing for high school students everywhere. It meant you were growing up. Not so much anymore.
Today’s youth, those aged 18-24 and called the Millennials, are much more interested in fancy gadgets, the internet and video games then cars. Recent surveys have found a disturbing trend for automobile makers everywhere, namely that most Millennials would rather have wifi than a car. To take it another step further, most really don’t care much about the kind of car they drive, providing it is green.
Besides wanting green technology, those Millennials who are into cars are also developing a new trend. Where it used to be that younger generations were into muscle cars, convertibles and hot rods, now they are much more interested in smaller, compact and more urban vehicles. Makes like the Mini and Fiat are popular while the Ford Focus and Toyota Prius have become their manufacturer’s top sellers.
This leaves automakers everywhere wondering just how to reach this emerging market. Some brands like Volkswagon and Mini have done better than others, many still struggle to bridge this gap. Most believe the answer lies somewhere in the world of social media. It used to be that owning a car meant you could go hang out with your friends whenever you wanted. Now, with smartphones and social media, you can virtually spend time with your friends whenever you want. Even past your literal curfews because you can go online together. This makes phones and wifi equipped devices more popular than ever.
This of course raises its own set of problems for the auto industry as well. While the demand for smartphone or even wifi enabled cars rises the number of death related to it has as well. It seems every week there is a new story emerging about somebody being killed while texting and driving. The issue is so serious that even the Department of Transportation is demanding automakers incorporate more safety devices in their new cars. Voice activation and phone docks are just a couple of the solutions being offered. The problem with this however, is that there is only so much they can do. If a Millennial wants to text and drive, they will do so no matter what.
This leaves automakers in a precarious position. How are they to market to Millennials using their social media interest without making things on the road more dangerous? It is a tough question with no clear answer.
About the Author:
Jefferson Jordan lives and thrives in sunny Orange County. He mainly writes about education. automobiles, real estate and pop culture. Enterprise Car Sales is one example of places Millenials can buy a car.