Five Tips for Auto Dealers Marketing to Millennials

Submitted by Kat Pilnick
March 14, 2019

As millennials get older and generation Z comes of age, many automotive marketers are still figuring out the best ways to reach these younger generations, but a thoughtful strategy can help you deliver messages that resonate with in-market buyers  Follow these tips to reach younger audiences with your automotive marketing:

1. Plan ahead
Once consumers enter the market for a new vehicle, more than two-thirds make a decision within three months.1 So, it’s important to reach potential customers early in the process, before they approach a decision. Encourage top-of-mind awareness and stronger brand consideration by communicating your brand and offerings before consumers are ready to purchase, and ideally before they’re even in the market. One of the best ways to stand out in consumers’ minds is advertising on traditional television. Nielsen reports that 71% of potential auto buyers recall the advertising they see on traditional TV when they’re shopping for a new car.2

2.Use a multiscreen approach

Although TV can boost your brand with audiences of all ages, millennials and younger counterparts don’t give TV their full attention. In fact, 99% of them multitask while watching TV, engaging in an average of four additional activities.3  Since these simultaneous activities almost exclusively involve other electronic devices, advertisers can use these distractions to their advantage. You can use demographic and geographic targeting to efficiently reach millennials on every device, however they’re consuming content. This approach of combining TV advertising with digital ad placements is shown to increase ad recall by 30% while also boosting brand awareness and brand/product favorability.5
3. Present consistent branding
Especially if you’re advertising across devices, it’s important to present your brand in a consistent manner. Younger Americans spend nearly 18 hours researching cars online before visiting a dealership.6  Touchpoints may involve digital video content, your website, and social media, in addition to TV advertisements and dealership visits.  Take this opportunity to plan complementary interactions throughout your customers’ buying journey, using consistent branding across your content.
4.  Provide a personalized experience
While maintaining your overall brand voice, adjust your message for each demographic group you want to reach. With some forms of advertising, like Premium Digital Video, you can also use psychographic targeting to deliver your message to viewers who show certain purchasing behaviors. You can emphasize luxury features in ads to big spenders, highlight safety features for young parents, and craft other messages tailored to your target audience. Then, deliver the right variations to the right consumers.
5. Connect emotionally
Emotionally engaged consumers are three times more likely to engage with a brand.They’re less price-sensitive and show more brand loyalty.8  And TV is one of the strongest ways to foster an emotional connection among millennials, who feel more emotionally invested in TV programming than do other adults.9   This connection influences millennials’ buying behaviors: 43% of millennials have purchased a product they saw while watching TV, whether the product was in the show or advertised in a commercial.10

For more tips and information on auto marketing, see our automotive one-sheet.


[1] Deloitte. “2018 Deloitte Global Automotive Consumer Study.” 2018 Feb.

[2] Nielsen. “The Nielsen Auto Marketing Report 2018.” 2018 Oct. “

[3] Deloitte. “Digital Democracy Survey,” Eleventh Edition. 2017.

[4] Statista. “Activities undertaken by Millennials in the United States while watching TV as of November 2016.” 2016.

[5] “Upper Funnel: Lift from brand health study surveys for 18 addressable campaigns.”

[6] Karesky, Tess. “Millennial Car Shoppers.” CDK Global. 2015.

[7] Video Advertising Bureau. “Committed: Exploring Millennials’ Meaningful Relationship With TV Programming.” 2018.

[8] Video Advertising Bureau. “Be Still My Viewing Heart: An exploration of the emotional bond viewers have with television programming and the impact on brands & advertisers.” 2017.

[9] Video Advertising Bureau. “Committed: Exploring Millennials’ Meaningful Relationship With TV Programming.” 2018.

[10] Video Advertising Bureau. “Committed: Exploring Millennials’ Meaningful Relationship With TV Programming.” 2018.


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