Late last year, USA Today printed an article that should make you sit up and take notice. Headlined, "Gen Y Sits on Top of the Consumer Food Chain," the article made it clear that Generation Y -- those born from 1982 to 2000 -- are showing remarkable influence over vehicle sales. The article quotes a recent study showing this generation influence 52 percent of their families' vehicle choices. What does this mean for you? If you want to snag some of the buying power of this group of 82 million consumers and their families, you need a fast and comprehensive website to grab their attention and keep it on your site. Following are some must-haves for your automotive website:
It has to be fast
This is a generation that grew up at the speed of Nintendo and cable internet-- they can't imagine a life without email, cell phones and iPods; everything to them is fast and instantly accessible. They see life as a drop-down menu of choices that can be accessed immediately with the click of a mouse. The USA Today article states that this generation "will wait just three seconds for a page to download before they click away." Ensure that every feature on your site delivers immediate results so visitors don't have that chance to click away. This means your homepage has to load in record time, your site has to be simple to navigate and, particularly for the automotive industry, you have to have an ultra-fast configurator, otherwise known as your Build-A-Car feature. If your configurator is slow or inaccurate, this generation will quickly move on to your competitors' site.
Go for instant gratification with photos
Generation Y demands instant gratification and immediacy. How does this translate to your automotive website? Consider the power of images and 360-degree spins for all your vehicles. Clear, high-quality images are key for making website visitors feel like they are visiting your real store. Use close-ups and spins so they can view virtually any detail, from dashboards to door handles. By employing these site features, visitors instantly feel like they are sitting in the car of their dreams, and these vehicle "movies" make your site sticky, so visitors stay around longer and are more likely to pursue next steps toward a purchase.
Make it comprehensive
Another important point the USA Today article makes is that Generation Y doesn't distinguish between "this is the store" and "this is the website"-- they see your tangible store and your web presence as one and the same. Knowing this, strive to make your website as much of a continuation of your store as possible: show the breadth of your inventory, make sure your branding is consistent and give the most accurate, consistent information possible. Don't give them a reason to leave your site and go to a competitor's because you quote the wrong price for an option package or used a stock photo of the vehicle they want to purchase.
In this same vein, make sure every detail about your products is easy to find and access. This group can see through "marketing fluff" in seconds-- and they don't tolerate it. Generation Y wants products that let them show some individuality, so make it quick and easy for them to review different wheels, paint colors and more. If they can build their dream vehicle on your site, why would they want to leave? And lastly, ensure they have everything they need to compare similar vehicles on your site in order to keep them engaged. Some of the current comparison tools on the market even let you market your vehicle's advantages and showcase the disadvantages of competing models. Use every tool available to make your model lineup come out on top.
If making your website appeal to Generation Y sounds overwhelming, consider contacting companies in the automotive space who specialize in website design, systems and automotive data. Also explore the world of web services-- the most efficient way to get accurate and comprehensive automotive data and data platforms without having to dedicate time or money to development hours. With these tips and services on your side, you'll be on your way to achieving a youth-friendly site in record time.
Peter Batten is general manager of Chrome Systems. Read full bio.