In the recent years, Millennials have proven to be the toughest generation to manage in the workforce. The automobile industry is having hard times attracting them as either employees or customers. If you are familiar with the field, you surely know how unpredictable millennials can be. But while you were thinking how to deal with Generation Y, Generation Z has grown up.
The Rise of Generation Z
At 60 million in the United States, Gen Z outnumbers millennials by 1 million. On the one hand, it would be easy to assume that they are just the next exaggerated version of the generation before them; but on the other, such an assumption would be quite risky. The context that Gen Z is growing up in is extremely different from that of Gen Y. And as it turns out their values, ambitions, and goals are going in a rather new direction.
Many of the behavioral differences between Generation Z and older generations come from the historical context they have lived in. Specifically, the fact that the Gen Z people have not lived before the Internet. They don’t know a life without it. Both Generation X and Y have had to get used to digitalization. But Gen Z is the first generation that has access to digital technologies since birth.
Youngsters today do not see any of the limitations that existed before the World Wide Web. For them, there are no restrictions. They think and act differently. This simple fact puts an endless amount of pressure on everyone else around, including businesses. Especially when they want to be “a desired employer”, in the automobile industry for example.
The life-long exposure to digitalization is already defining Gen Z’s expectations from companies and employers. They want to see someone on the other side of the table who behaves just like they do. To have confidence in a brand, whether it’s new or over 50-years old, Gen Z wants to see it act naturally and authentically. To reach Gen Z employment candidates and customers, a company should use transparent approach and act seamlessly across channels. Companies are the ones that need to catch up with digital behavior. Gen Z doesn’t need to adopt technologies.
Youngsters born in 1996 and after demonstrate stronger altruistic behavior than any of the previous generations. About 74% of the Gen Z believes that jobs should have a bigger purpose than just making money. Their choice of career and employer will steer towards both pragmatic and purposeful jobs.
Research conducted by Wildness in 2015, defined Generation Z individuals as ‘Culture Collaborators’ who seek out partners that co-create, connect and reward them. Their entertainment depends on real people who they fancy, with whom they can share real-life experiences. Yes, they crave experiences they can capture, like, and share. But what is more peculiar is that it’s not the digital that makes these experiences memorable. Unlike many Millennials, 88% of Gen Z take intentional digital breaks.
Gen Z appears to be less materialistic than Millennials. In a study conducted by Kelly Blue Book and Autotrader, Gen Z proves to be less interested in style and brands than Millennials when they were teens. They score 14% lower on the importance of style in their lives. They don’t show appreciation and attachment to brands either.
When it comes to automobile brands, none seem highly relatable. Gen Z favors traditional and practical. Surprisingly, Tesla was the preferred brand for only 1% of teens in the survey. Where is Elon Musk’s mass market for electric vehicles headed now?
Gen Z is driven by values more often associated with those of Baby Boomers.
Despite their lack of interested in the material world, Gen Z is more interested in ownership than Gen Y. While Millennials are really into all formats of the sharing economy, Generation Z seems to be returning to the idea of ownership as a way of self-expression. Despite their altruistic personalities, they are more money-focused than Millennials.
Environmental friendliness is a big idea that Gen Z supports. Yet, they would choose their vehicle by evaluating how much it saves on gas rather than how much it decreases the effect on global warming. Safety is also one of the primary considerations when it gets to choosing a car. They prefer the safest among the trusted brands; they want to know how each feature improves their driving safety.
Gen Z loves autonomous vehicles. Autonomous vehicles, they say, will decrease driver distraction, and will improve safety on the road. While Millenials would be excited about the tech and design behind the innovation, Gen Z thinks rather traditionally. This fact should be considered very seriously by automakers as Gen Z is serious about their driving plans.
Over 92% of Gen Z wants and plans to own a car in the near future.
They would be automakers’ hope for a new boom in auto sales. Car sharing holds no interest for Generation Z. Instead, they want to get their own experience in driving and owning a car. They love freedom and responsibility, so having a car of their own would probably be one of most meaningful experiences.
Just like their parents, Gen Z value the personal experience when buying a car. They want to go to a dealership, meet with a car salesman, take a car for a test drive, and only then make a choice. Millennials were eager to buy a car online, but with Gen Z this is very unlikely. Becoming more personal would help automakers win the trust of the Gen Z customers. You never know, they might even start valuing brands more once you show them you understand them.
What should the Automobile industry learn from all this? Automakers might have lost faith when Generation Y completely turned their backs on them, but now automobile companies have a chance to stand out again. Automakers have to understand what the new generation values to connect with them and to build trust and loyalty.
To get Gen Z to buy cars, automakers will need to:
- Develop and market safety features
- Show proof of return on investment
- Mention the effect on the environment
- Focus on one-to-one communication
To get Gen Z to join the automobile workforce:
- Offer real-life experiences
- Promise safety, security… and money
- Inspire with a bigger purpose
- Link job to personal passion
- Get digital now