Millennials Still Love That New Car Smell

Chevrolet, MTV Scratch survey key attitudes toward car ownership from new generation


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NEW YORK – Nearly 70 percent of Millennials – the generation of young Americans ages 11 to 30 years old – consider the purchase of their first car to be a key marker on the road to adulthood, according to research conducted by Chevrolet and MTV Scratch, a unit of Viacom.

A Chevrolet/Scratch survey of more than 3,000 Millennials nationwide suggests a strong interest in car ownership, but the group is more likely than previous generations to delay major life events, including the first automobile purchase.  According to the Millennials survey:

  • 69 percent say buying a car is a key milestone in becoming an adult
  • 32 percent say they are interested in cars
  • 77 percent are concerned about fuel economy

“Next Gen Customers are not just car owners, they are also tomorrow’s designers, engineers and innovators,” said Mark Reuss, president, General Motors North America. “This generation expects brands to partner with them, and we need to engage with them at every level of our business.””

According to U.S. Census data, there are more than 80 million American consumers approaching age 30. They represent 40 percent of today’s potential car-buying public, according to the 2011 “Gen Y in the Driver’s Seat” study by Deloitte, and more than $2 trillion in purchasing power, according to a 2011 estimate by Javelin Strategy and Research.

“The opportunity that this new generation represents is enormous,” Reuss said. “And the only way for us as a company to deliver the products, technology and services they want most is to really listen to what is important in their lives today and where they want to go in the future.

“This partnership with MTV Scratch gives us a unique forum to engage in a meaningful dialogue,” he said.

Said Ross Martin, executive vice president of Scratch: “Chevrolet understands that it’s not about ‘targeting’ youth – it’s about collaborating with a generation to create the future of automotive together. Chevrolet is taking a comprehensive approach to channeling Millennials, grounded in what this generation wants, thinks and feels, and we’re excited to support this transformative effort.”

Chevrolet is seeking to understand this generation and how attitudes toward cars fit into the framework of their lives – from the way they express identity to how they engage with technology to what they value in a brand.  With Scratch, Chevrolet is identifying key segments of the Millennial car-buying market and the shared attributes that unify them.  These insights are being applied to advance innovation throughout the company, from design to sales and marketing to communications and beyond.

Chevrolet and Scratch’s research also shows how this generation’s interest in used cars and car-sharing is an opportunity to cultivate affinity for the Chevrolet brand before, during and after purchase.

“Millennials are interested in cars, but right now their connection with automobiles is more practical than emotional,” said John McFarland, manager GM Global Marketing Strategy. “No one in the automotive space is currently winning with this generation, so we have an opportunity to differentiate ourselves and win their hearts, not just their minds.”

No surprise, technology has impacted the way this generation has been socialized in significant ways. According to MTV Insights:

  • 55 percent agree with the statement “What I post online defines me
  • 75 percent say they are so connected they are never really alone

“24/7 Connectivity is the lifeblood of this generation,” said McFarland.  “Chevrolet MyLink, which is featured in the Spark and Sonic, helps them stay connected at a fraction of the price of previous systems.”

This partnership is one of many initiatives GM is pursuing to reach new generations of customers.

The Chevrolet Youth Concepts, designed with and for Millennials, serve as an example of how Chevy is engaging the group in the co-creation process. To date, more than 13,000 people have provided feedback on the concepts at global auto shows, through Facebook, and at the annual South by Southwest music, film and interactive conference and festival.  Chevrolet will continue to engage Millennials and influencers in research into these concept vehicles throughout the year.

About Chevrolet

Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at

About MTV Scratch

Scratch is a collaborative, diverse, cross-functional team that channels the reach, connection and creative force of Viacom and its brands in new ways to drive revenue and culture.