Can’t Buy Me Love

In a recent article in The Atlantic  (“Why Don’t Young Americans Buy Cars?”) Jordan Weissmann explored the sharp decline in car sales to Millennials. He wondered aloud if it is a generational shift or just a lackluster economy. Either way, today’s marketers need to understand what’s going on inside the heads of those earphone wearing, iPhone toting, Zipcar driving young folks.

Each generation is shaped by the events that occur during their formative years. This group of young people has witnessed a stock market crash, the bursting of the real estate bubble, soaring gas prices, and both manmade and naturally occurring environmental disasters. School shootings and terrorist attacks proved that even children and white-collar workers could see their world change in an instant. They had a front row seat for the reshaping of the American labor force as manufacturing jobs disappeared and companies remade full-time jobs into part-time to keep employee costs down.

Today’s young people have a real understanding of how fragile both real and figurative institutions can be. They want to be able to ebb and flow more easily than their parents and grandparents. They crave flexibility, not necessarily ownership. So marketers, think Netflix, Airbnb and Zilok, and not multi-year financing options.

Quote of the Week:
“You must always be able to predict what’s next and then have the flexibility to evolve.” ~Mark Benioff, founder, chairman, and CEO of

Leave a reply