4 Things Gen Z Hates About the Car Buying Experience
By Bobby Johnson
August 23, 2022
By Bobby Johnson
August 23, 2022
The car-buying experience has always been hit-or-miss for most people, but Gen Z in particular has some pet peeves that dealers need to be aware of if they want to make a sale.
Gen Z has been the target of multiple studies and reports gauging their feelings about dealerships, salespeople, and the entire car buying process. We’re going to go through this data and Gen Z’s main pain points, and see if dealers can’t adapt their strategies to this up-and-coming generation.
Nothing annoys Gen Z more on the dealer lot than the feeling that they’re being sped through the buying process. CDK’s Global Study, Understanding the Gen Z Car Shopper, found that 81% of Gen Zer’s polled said that they want to understand the car and the deal being offered.
More importantly, they want to take their time when buying a car. Gen Z scored highest in this answer compared to other generations, with only 73% of Millennials, 60% of Gen X, and 45% of Baby Boomers agreeing.
Gen Z is new to car buying, and they want to ask questions about the car, the purchase process, and the dealer. And they don’t want to buy until they feel absolutely comfortable with the transaction and the product.
This lack of hurry, however, shouldn’t be translated as patience. The same study found that while Gen Zers want to take their time asking questions and feeling comfortable, they have little patience for delays caused by salespeople.
Specifically called out in the study was Gen Z’s distaste for redundant tasks like paperwork and approvals, having a car delivery delayed, or waiting on a salesperson or the “boss in the back” to make decisions.
Gen Z may also not want to rush because they have an affinity for haggling. In Mintel’s Car Purchasing Process report in 2022, Gen Z was the least likely of all generations to believe that “no-haggling pricing” would become the norm in the future.
Car dealers can help Gen Z feel more comfortable by taking their time to give Gen Z as much information (and time) as they need to make their decision. At the same time, dealers should streamline their own processes to prevent Gen Z buyers from having to wait around for paperwork and approvals.
Despite Gen Z’s always-online reputation, they want to see the car with their own eyes and talk to an expert.
Understanding the Gen Z Car Shopper showed that 87% of Gen Z buy their cars at a dealership, even if they may start their research online. This penchant for in-person buying is almost certainly related to their desire to talk to, haggle with, and question salespeople before making their decision.
This is also backed up by Mintel’s 2022 Shopping for a Car Online report. In it, the data showed that generations with more wealth were more likely to want to buy a car online. This could be correlated with familiarity: generations with more wealth are usually older, they’ve bought more cars in the past, and are less intimidated by the process. So, they may be more likely to buy a car online just to “get it over with.”
Mintel’s report also showed that Gen Z were least likely to buy a car online, further cementing the idea that they want to car shop in person.
Gen Z may statistically have less wealth as a generation, but assuming they can’t afford or aren’t interested in high-end cars is a bad idea.
CDK’s Understanding the Gen Z Car Shopper showed that 39% of Gen Z are more likely to buy a luxury brand, a percentage higher than every other generation.
Gen Z, turns out, loves fast cars for their speed, look, and status. This jives with Mintel’s Perception of Car Types report, which asked a wide swath of consumers what kind of cars they perceive as “high quality.”
Gen Z put “sports cars” at the top of the list, with hybrid/electric vehicles at a distant second. In fact, they rated hybrid/electric vehicles as lower in perceived quality than even Boomers rated them.
Looking at what Gen Z rated the lowest for “high quality,” we can see they’re not interested in boring or economical cars. Wagons, hatchbacks, minivans, and full-sized vans all rounded out the bottom of Gen Z’s choices for quality. What’s also interesting is that even the classically reliable sedan rated low with Gen Z, far lower than every other generation.
Only 16% of Gen Z called sedans “high-quality,” a shocking departure from the rest of the answers. 50% of Boomers, 36% of Gen X, and 31% of Millennials all think of sedans fondly.
Perhaps most surprisingly, when consumers were asked if an auto brand’s ethics influenced their desire to buy from that brand, Gen Z were least swayed. For a generation oft-reported as activists deeply concerned about brand ethics, that feeling doesn’t extend to their car purchases.
For dealers looking to snag Gen Z, don’t come at Gen Z shoppers with a pocketful of assumptions about their wealth, interests, ethics, or goals.
Buying a car is stressful for most people: it’s a huge purchase with a lot of strings and red tape. It affects the buyer’s credit, gives them a new monthly bill, and may require updated insurance. However, Gen Z is easily the most intimidated by the process.
Gen Z rated the car-buying process more stressful than every other generation did in Mintel’s Car Purchasing Process report in 2021. In Understanding the Gen Z Car Shopper, Gen Z responders rated the difficulty of buying a car higher than other generations, too.
Why are they so stressed? There are a couple of primary factors. First, they’re younger and generally more inexperienced when it comes to car shopping. Anything we’re new at feels more stressful.
Second, the generation as a whole has less wealth than other generations and feels the financial pinch of a car purchase harder. This is reflected in data from Understanding the Gen Z Car Shopper, where many Gen Zers noted their hatred of additional surprise fees that jump up at the end of the car-buying journey.
Dealers and salespeople can smooth the car-buying process for Gen Zers by avoiding jargon and fast-talking. Keep acronyms out of your discussion: explain everything about the buying process (and the car itself) in plain language.
Also, dealers can be upfront about sales tax, Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) insurance, warranty costs, and doc fees. You’re not scaring them away: quite the opposite. Gen Z’s distaste for having their time wasted means that going through the entire process and just hoping they won’t balk at the closing fees won’t work.
Their cash is limited, their patience is limited, and they find the whole process stressful. Be honest, be helpful, and be upfront about the real costs of the vehicle.
It isn’t up to just dealers and salespeople to cater to Gen Z’s concerns. How auto marketers reach out to this generation is a huge part of Gen Z’s perception of their brand, and their likelihood of coming into the dealer in the first place.
If you need help getting a handle on Gen Z, and want to address their car-buying concerns in your advertisements and live marketing events, talk to an expert at Inspira Marketing today.
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