Auto Service World
News   December 14, 2022   by Adam Malik

The age group you need to target — and how to do it

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If automotive aftermarket companies’ social media marketing strategy consists of Facebook and Instagram, you’re probably not getting the audience and, in turn, the customers you want.

Facebook and Instagram might be fine for the older generation but not the one that has the biggest influence on purchasing behaviour in their home — Generation Z, born towards the end of the 1990s and into the early 2000s, explained Eric Buss, commerce practice lead at IBM Global Business Services.

“They’re on Discord and TikTok and other things that have yet to be contemplated,” he said during the recent Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association 2022 Technology Conference.

Buss acknowledged this age group’s buying power is small and their discretionary income doesn’t match older generations. “However, I believe this generation has more influence on the future trends of digital engagement than any other generation on the planet today,” he said during the session B2B and Customer Experience.

“It’s an interesting dynamic, because even though they may not be making the purchases, they may not be the ones that are driving the revenue back into the economy yet, they’re influencing how the future generations and upward influencing — through the Millennial generation up into Gen X — they’re influencing how one expects a brand to engage digitally with them.”

Buss further explained that three years ago, 47 per cent of all business-to-business transactions were influenced by someone that identifies as a Millennial — today, it’s 53 per cent. He noted that they may not be doing the procurement, but they’re influencing it.

“What that means is, if we’re still thinking that the way that we’ve typically done digital engagement and created experiences that are easy to do business with us and they’re not relevant to the Millennial and eventually the Gen Z generations, I think [those companies are] going to be short-lived,” Buss said.

Gen Z is increasingly pushing the envelope on companies to make experiences simple, intuitive and work whenever they demand. Sitting on a long phone call or waiting for someone to return a message isn’t a good experience.

“There’s a lot of things that just become an expectation,” Buss added.

“And although I may never find it interesting and fascinating, I at least need to open the aperture in my mind to explore what experiences this is delivering that’s so attractive…”

It’s a change in the way business used to happen, observed fellow panellist Brian Everett, industry cloud lead in SAP’s industrial manufacturing area.

“We’re now in an environment — and I think it’ll continue to be that way — where the consumer is influencing the business reactions and responses. It used to be the business and the way that we operated at work really drove down into our personal lives and that kind of formed the rhythms of what we have out there. But now it’s really getting into this consumerism aspect,” he said.

He used the term “personalization” to describe what the youngest generation expects.

“When you get into the interactions of the way, this next generation … is going to be interacting, they have been built with a life around digitalization. It’s not like they learned it over their time. And they were introduced into it; that’s what they’ve all known,” Everett said.

Buss stressed one key point: Just because you don’t understand the technology or platform, don’t devalue it. You need to find out why it’s so fascinating to them.

“And although I may never find it interesting and fascinating, I at least need to open the aperture in my mind to explore what experiences this is delivering that’s so attractive, how can I parlay off or draft behind that experience to help my brand, both internally, externally,” he said.

“I think it’s a brilliant concept to say we as leaders need to be opening our minds to the ideas, even if we fundamentally are disconnected from it.”

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