SAN ANTONIO – No offense to a sometimes reviled, sometimes revered group of 77 million young consumers, but “marketing to Millennials is for suckers.”
That’s according to marketer Brent Wees who advises against singling out one generation, no matter which it is.
Instead, he recommends “marketing to all ages, leveraging evolving technologies and sticking to core retail pillars” by doing the right thing.
He’s quick to note he’s not trying to discredit a subset of customers, but says “technology defines all generations.” In other words, plenty of tech-savvy gray-haired online shoppers weren’t born with a computer tablet in their hands.
“I have an iPhone 6, and an 88-year-old friend showed me ways to use it I didn’t know about,” says Wees.
He is director of first impressions for Nextup, a North American technology company. He’s also a Generation X’er who notes his age group (once called “slackers”) took its share of stereotypical criticism in its younger days, just as the 20- and 30-something Millennials sometimes get rapped today.
Yet the latter age group is coveted as consumers.
“I got 23 million search results from ‘How to market to Millennials’ and 7 million for ‘How to market to Gen X,’ proving once again you never liked us,” Wees – wearing a t-shirt, vest, brim hat and wrist beads – says at an annual DealerSocket User Summit here.
On his generation-specific how-to search efforts, Aging Baby Boomers scored 13 million, proving they’re still a powerful consumer group and, as Wees playfully claims, “still hogging search results.”
People over age 50 buy 60% of new cars, yet only 10% of automotive marketing aims directly at them, he says. “Experts tell us we have to market to Millennials because they are different. You can do age-based marketing all day long. If you go down that rabbit hole, I’ll sell you a Scion dealership.”
Toyota debuted Scion as a youth brand in 2003, but it goes away after the ’16 model year. Not only were Scion sales below expectation, but the average buyer in 2011 was a ripe 43 years old.
“All types (and ages) of people want things” from car dealers, Wees says.
That multi-generational bunch frequents dealerships that show integrity, earn trust, appreciate customer loyalty and believe in their products, he says. “You can’t get away from that.”