AutoTrader Study Finds Millennials Buy Cars Differently Than Their Parents

Millennials are doing a lot of things differently than their Baby Boomer parents, including how they buy cars.

A study by AutoTrader.com found that Millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1996, lean toward cars that reflect their personalities or accomplishments, but put a lot of thought and research into making a decision before getting to the dealership.

Researchers interviewed thousands of Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boombers and found that Millennials are image-conscious at first, but their preferences become more practical as they get older.  Luxury automakers, like Mercedes, BMW and Audi are tapping into this vanity by offering entry-level cars at a lower price point.

While that might be the case, the study found that Millennials are more open to buying a car from a less well-known brand than other shoppers. While Boomers and Gen Xers both include Chevrolet and Ford among the brands that best fit their personalities, older Millennials include only Chevrolet, while younger Millennials include neither. These shoppers are more likely to consider German and Japanese brands because of their popularity throughout a Millennial's life.

By the time a Millennial gets to the dealership, it's likely he or she already knows what they want to drive away with. This is due to the fact that Millennials will do plenty of research online, usually via smartphone, and speak to friends and family before walking onto the lot. When they do get there, Millennials want expert advice without the pushy sales pitch along with time to consider their decision. This is why the dealership experience tends to be more positive for Millennials than for older shoppers who may be introduced to their new car while at the dealership.

While Millennials may have less experience shopping for cars, they tend to use the technology at hand to help guide their decisions.

How Millennial are you? Take this fun quiz from Pew Research to find out.

Content Published: Monday, September 15, 2014
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