If you’re looking to keep your business alive, then the answer is yes. But first, let’s back it up a bit and ask ourselves, “What is a millennial?” Technically, it’s someone who was born between the years of 1981 and 1996. He or she is an individual currently in their mid-twenties and thirties. As simple as this definition is, it doesn’t begin to cover the societal factors that have shaped and molded millennial behavior.
What’s clear is that they are different than the baby boomer generation because they’ve grown up in a different time. This means, as a motorcycle dealer, you must change your marketing approach if you hope to entice them. This isn’t something you should fear.
Millennials are “Killing” the Motorcycle Industry
There have been multiple reports and articles recently stating that millennials are to blame for a decrease in motorcycle sales. These sources don’t tell the whole story and are simply attention-grabbing headlines.
How can you group and then blame a whole generation for one problem? It’s not as simple as it’s made out to be. Just like the rest of the population, younger individuals greatly vary in their financial status, hobbies and interests, and other aspects of their life.
The millennial market is the future of many industries. However, individuals from this younger generation carry more debt and are less likely to make big “life” decisions at an early age. Whether it’s buying a house or starting a family — research and reality suggest that millennials will wait longer to commit to something large-scale.
Out of necessity, the younger generations have adopted the concept that less is more. And as city populations continue to rise, the days of coasting down the open highway on a cruiser are less appealing. A sleeker, more compact bike that’s useful for getting around city streets, however, is more interesting.
The trend is simple. Millennials don’t want a high-end bike — they want cheap transportation with a low entry cost. This is the decision-making factor you should focus on with your marketing efforts.
Little Things You Can Do to Appeal to Millennials
Advertise your used and more affordable new bikes directly to your younger audience. Feature the bikes that require less maintenance and carry less overhead costs.
Highlight your financing options to draw younger riders to your dealership. Be friendly when discussing payment plans and financials. Most millennials are currently paying off a burden of student debt, so you don’t want to scare them away. Consider having one-on-one financing discussions to come up with a solution both sides will benefit from.
Manage your online presence and reputation. Millennials are good at finding the best deals. They know how to easily research the market and your competitors online. If your prices are significantly higher than your competitors’ prices and your dealership has many negative reviews, younger riders are most likely to go somewhere else.
It may seem difficult to appeal to millennials because that motorcycle “cool” factor from generations past doesn’t necessarily exist like it used to. However, that doesn’t mean millennials don’t want to ride motorcycles.
They still think that bikes are cool and they dream about owning and riding their own, just like any motorcycle enthusiast. But certain economic factors have made millennials more frugal. They have to spend the money that they have wisely. The bikes that appeal to the baby boomer generation won’t be the same bikes millennials are looking for.
Following Millennial Trends
We all know that change can be hard, especially in an industry rich in culture and history. But marketing and the ways people interact with the world have changed dramatically in the past decade. As a motorcycle dealership, you have to find a balance between preserving your roots and adapting to a new generation’s behavior.
If you aren’t part of the Millennial Generation, it’s easy to dismiss their behavior as weird, wrong, or not understandable. If you have younger employees, you should get their opinions and involve them more in discussions related to your marketing efforts to reach younger riders.
Not all millennials follow the same behaviors, but they do understand how and why younger people act the way they do. They’ve grown up in the age of social media and digital marketing. Their perspectives, which some may view as immature or incorrect, are still very valuable if you want to expand your reach.
Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
The dilemma of reaching the younger generation is similar to a stadium full of fans at a sports event. Everyone is sitting in their chairs, focusing their attention on the game and not really trying to leave their seats.
As a seller, if you sit in one spot of the stadium and wait for passersby to approach you, you’re not going get much response. On the other hand, if you walk through the stadium — up and down the aisles, interacting with the fans, and yelling “Ice COLD!” — it will be much easier to make some solid sales.
Similarly, when marketing to the millennial market, you need to step out of your comfort zone and engage with them on the channels they use. They may be on their phones too much, but knowing this actually helps you strategize your marketing plan.
Something as simple as making your website mobile-friendly — or even mobile-first— could be the difference between a prospect and a loyal paying customer.
At the end of the day, Millennials are people, which means that you have way more in common with them than you think. Just like generations before them, younger riders want to survive, enjoy life, and make something out of their time on this planet. Your job is to convince them that their life will be more enjoyable on a motorcycle purchased from your dealership.
Reaching Your Audience: Content is King
It’s not enough to just post pictures of your bikes on Instagram. In fact, doing this is similar to a millennial driving by your dealership. They get a glance at your products. They may consider stopping by, but they usually don’t.
You must be able to answer two (2) simple questions when dealing with any target audience; Where and why does a purchasing decision happen?
In terms of millennials, this can be difficult to pinpoint given that all millennials are not the same. You should test out different social media strategies and use information that you already know about your “millennial” customers. It can be a game of trial and error, but it’s worth the effort in order to expand your customer base.
Engagement and Interaction
Luckily, millennials still appreciate the same things we all do. Art and creativity, humor, local efforts and a sense of community are a few examples. Your job is to find out how you can intersect and utilize these human elements in your social media and digital marketing efforts.
All the content you spend your time and money on won’t guarantee engagement. It’s important to develop a process of content creation that allows for testing to see what works. Before you set your ROI and conversion goals, start with a simpler goal like engagement. Build up a younger following by posting graphics of your modern, sleeker-looking bikes — post things that appeal to the younger crowd.
Humor is another easy place to start. Everyone uses humor as a coping mechanism for stress, and most people will engage with something they can relate to. It’s important to note that what the baby boomer generation finds funny won’t necessarily work with younger generations. You have to be relevant and relatable in your approach, which is sometimes easier said than done.
If you don’t have someone dedicated to your social media and digital marketing efforts, you should either hire someone for this role or use a digital marketing agency.
Interest and Attention Spans
All this talk about millennials’ short attention spans is not as true as it seems. The reality is that millennials are able to concentrate on something just as long as anybody else. Look at the popular TV show Game of Thrones as an example. This show and its content has millions of millennials around the world tuning in, watching and re-watching episodes, and becoming true fans of the show.
So it’s not that millennials have short attention spans, it’s just that they can be very picky with what they spend their attention on. Constantly bombarded with digital advertisements in all shapes and sizes, millennials have learned to either completely ignore ads or only give a few seconds of their time to them. The question isn’t how to grab their attention, it’s how to keep it. And the answer is great content — something young people will want to interact with.
As your younger audience grows, you’ll want to start targeting them to make a purchase. Offer incentives to your local community, such as a limited-time discount for prospects in your zip code. Hold events to attract new, younger customers. Whether it’s live music (entertainment) or a speaker presentation (education), use these opportunities to engage with the younger crowd. Get them interested in your bikes and more importantly, your brand. It is important to digitally advertise these events in the right places and to include elements that will attract a younger audience.
Should Your Motorcycle Dealership Be Targeting the Millennial Market?
Millennials want to buy bikes, they just need more pull from your dealership. By properly engaging and speaking their “language,” they’ll feel much more comfortable walking into your dealership with the intentions of purchasing a new bike. They will feel like they belong.
And that’s all you’re trying to accomplish, at first. You want them to gain an interest in your dealership. After that, it’s up to the staff working the sales floor to close on a deal by providing exceptional customer service.
Think outside the box when planning your content strategy for social media and focus on appealing to the younger generation. This is not a short-term agenda — it will take some time. This is the future of your business and should be treated as such.
It’s important to engage on social media all-year-round and not just during the riding season. Over time, your followers and loyal customers will develop an emotional connection to your brand. This is a leading decision-making factor when it comes to purchasing any product.
Don’t read into the hype and “give up” on millennials. The industry is not dying, it’s just changing. Motorcycle manufacturers around the world are spending more money on research and development to target younger people. You should follow their lead.
It’s a shifting landscape. By accepting reality and adapting to the changes, you will find momentum in attracting new customers and growing your dealership. There will always be a demand for motorcycles. As with any demographic, the way you target and market to your audience will determine your success.
Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts and experiences on working with and selling to younger people.