February 25, 2020

How Not to Market to Millennials

“Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal issued a report on what may be the central contradiction of the modern auto industry. While Sport Utility Vehicles and crossovers (aka SUVs that offer no Utility when it comes to the Sport of driving offroad) have classically been the best-selling vehicles across all car brands, their sales have stagnated in the first half of 2019, growing only about 1.5 percent in a sector that’s used to seeing sales growth rates of 10 percent or higher. But instead of looking at the market and concluding that they should maybe try to sell people some sedans or station wagons or hatchbacks, car companies have decided to pump out… more SUVs and crossovers? Per WSJ:

Auto executives say they aren’t too worried because even as the sales rate slows, there is still healthy demand among consumers for these types of vehicles and their models will continue to stand out.

“Our crystal ball has this continuing,” said Bill Fay, senior vice president for Toyota North America.
Though Bill Fay, senior vice president for Toyota North America, is clearly back on his bullshit, his quote also speaks to the sort of Business Logic that every large company subscribes to. Bigger vehicles, the WSJ points out, offer car companies and dealers larger profit margins, so that is what they are going to make. I have no idea whether or not Bill Fay, senior vice president for Toyota North America, actually believes in astrology or not, but you know who fuckin’ loves astrology? Millennials. And you know what millennials drive on roads? Cars. And you know what cars cost? Money.

Right now, millennials don’t really buy cars at the same rate that older people do. This is mainly because one, young people have largely gotten screwed by the economy in the past decade; and two, because modern cars are fairly reliable, as evidenced by the fact that the average car on the road is now 11.8 years old. Despite being a 30-year-old millennial who hangs out with other 30-year-old millennials, I can count the number of people I know driving new cars on one hand. Buying a new car, or for that matter any car that isn’t some beater off Craigslist, is an abstraction for most of us.”

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