Much has been made of working with Millennials in the F&I office. Hundreds of articles and blogs analyze the most effective ways to engage and sell to them. But many in the industry could be ignoring one of the bigger and soon-to-be influential groups of car buyers coming into the market now…Gen Z.
Or should they be called iGen? Gen Why? Gen Y? We’ll just go with Gen Z for now.
Who is Gen Z?
This demographic is widely described as people born between 1995 – 2015. The top end of this group is just now becoming car buyers. They are shopping for a car for the first time and will have their first early experiences with the F&I department. This is all new for them and dealerships (and F&I) have to be ready.
Everything about how they view the process of buying a car will be different than their Millennial counterparts. Studies even show that many in this generation don’t really think car ownership is a priority. Remember, many in this group would rather Uber than bother with driving. Tough crowd, indeed.
How Are They Different?
Unlike the Millennials, they have grown up from the beginning being connected to a different level of technology. They do not remember a world without cell phones and smartphones. Everything in their world has been touchscreen and all the information they could ever want has been available at the touch of button.
They also have grown up in the world of social media – MySpace, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter, etc. Everything in their world is connected to their smartphones and they spend hours each day tethered to it (well, we all do, don’t we?).
They have a shorter attention span than Millennials on average and have little patience for information channels where too much effort is needed to get simple answers or information. If you have something to say, you better get it out quick or you will lose them.
One of the most interesting findings about Gen Z is their desire to engage in activities that make a difference in the world. Maybe that doesn’t make an impact on how F&I managers can connect with this buyer but it’s worth noting. Perhaps any products that could be viewed as having a positive impact on the environment, for instance, could be important to the Gen Z buyer. Something to think about.
F&I Strategies to Connect & Sell to Gen Z Buyers…
Here are a few tips on how your F&I department can make a stronger and more profitable connection to your Gen Z buyers…
- Increase Your Social Media Presence: Consider adding explainer videos to your website or the dealership YouTube channel. Gen Z buyers are heavy viewers of YouTube. Studies have shown up to 32% of their buying decisions are influences by videos. Give them content that explains some of the common F&I products you offer and how they could be of value.
Try a short blog or article that can be linked through social media channels to give these buyers a quick education on what F&I does and how you can help make their purchasing experience a quick and painless one. This generation is exposed to more information than ever…give them a good impression right from the start so they come in ready to ask more about what you have to offer.
- The Touchscreen-Friendly Office: Most F&I departments should already have touchscreen technologies available for easy and engaging menu selling but in case yours does not, consider switching soon. Gen Z buyers want an interactive experience when making a buying decision. The paper menus and scripted speeches about why tire & wheel is important won’t resonate with this buyer.
If possible, consider having your online F&I page filled with short articles on product and financing options. Make it a dynamic and educational page, not salesy. Gen Z doesn’t have the patience or the attention span for yesterday’s long-winded sales approaches.
- All Digital F&I Experience: This may be a taboo subject among some F&I managers but there are stores that are leveraging an all-digital F&I experience and buyers love it. Dealerships are making it easier to shop for a car online so why not include the F&I process in that as well?
Gen Z buyers would rather not stray too far from home if they can help it and if they can have everything handled before they come in, that may be optimal. Give them online forms for credit approval, have product menus available with an easy way for them to add what they want, and offer a phone call or Skype session for those borrowers who may need to have some questions answered.
The notion that there is no money to be made in an online F&I experience is proving to be false as seen in an increasing number of dealerships nationwide. If it’s done correctly with an engaging and persuasive online experience for the Gen Z buyer, the profits will be there.