Millennials and Mobility: Desire Vs Need

7 September 2017
A panel of industry moguls from broadcasting to marketing came together at Tech Fest today to discuss the relationship between millennials and mobility, with most agreeing that the future will be a balance of need and means versus aspiration and that for

A panel of industry moguls from broadcasting to marketing came together at Tech Fest today to discuss the relationship between millennials and mobility, with most agreeing that the future will be a balance of need and means versus aspiration and that for the foreseeable future, car ownership is here to stay, with the marketing shifting towards communal mobility over time.

Panel chair and Managing Director of InMotion Ventures (Jaguar Land Rover) Sebastian Peck began by asking the panel and the audience if car ownership had reached the end of the road with the millennial generation.

“The first thing I’d say is that people think they know millennials if they work in marketing, but I would say be cautious,” said Matilda Andersson, Head of Insight & Innovation at Crowd DNA. “The youngest are 22 and the oldest are around 35 – that’s a huge age range, with the oldest having grown up largely without technology, whilst the younger in the group don’t remember a time without the internet. There are also differences between western and eastern markets and the global north and global south. For a generation that’s come of age during a global recession and are forming their adult life in a polarised world, they’re actually very civic minded, and something that unites millennials is that sense of global collectiveness, and of course the speed of change of technology.”

Television and radio presenter Alice Levine also cautioned marketers against using the often controversial definition of the group: “I feel like millennial is a term that millennials don't use – no one self-identifies that way. Twenty-two to 35 is a really difficult group to pinpoint in terms of common traits.”

Sebastian went on to ask how important it was for millennials to be able to relate emotionally to the brand and service being provided.

“I think that question is really horses for courses”, began Jim Chapman, lifestyle vlogger. “If it’s something I really care about – like the car I drive – I’ll invest in it. If it’s more of a means to an end – like an Uber taking be from A to B – I’ll just go for the cheapest available, because the value of that service ends when I get out the car. I think that when it comes to owning something, the brand has to have that good vibe.”

Alice reinforced Jim’s point: “A lot of brand authority comes from personal recommendation and having a seal of approval from your peers – that’s a really strong influence.”

Neil Sharpe, Director of Mobility Solutions (Bosch) raised the importance of personalisation for building consumer-brand relations, and how this would be key for brands looking to win over millennials in the future: “We’re in an era of personalisation – everything is becoming personalised”.

For Yihyun Lim, Associate Director, MIT Design Lab, it was also a question of desire, and what is considered to be a luxury: “Desire for personal space; for mobility and freedom are desires driven by circumstance. Those desirable experiences will come from what the car can provide within its space as we move forward with automotive technology.”

Jim expanded on Yihyun’s point by talking about his own interactions with brands: “when I think of luxury I think of heritage; that’s why I sometimes wear Savile Row clothes, that’s why I drive Jaguar cars. I can buy a suit from anywhere but I like to go to Savile Row because it shows that I know what I’m doing – it shows that I think about what I do.”

All on the panel agreed that millennials are in the driving seat of change, defining what luxury will be in the future of automotive, with personalisation offering car ownership a stay of execution. As convenience begins to win over time-poor and financially squeezed city-dwelling millennials, though, could their civic-minded mentality give way to a more communal sense of car ownership? Time will tell.

As for the audience, they echoed the panels thoughts, with over three quarters (77%) believing that car ownership was here to stay, compared to 23% that said it would end.

Millennials and Mobility: Desire Vs Need