Do you blog? Do you get more of your information from television or from surfing the Web?
Maybe you’re not the most technologically savvy individual, but if you’re an automotive OEM looking to hire the next generation of workers, you need to catch up -- fast.
The 80 million estimated “millennials,” or those born between 1981 and 2000, are the newest generation of workers and they have grown up with the Internet. They have lived their entire lives in the digital age, where information on any topic is available at the click of a mouse, actual newspapers are passé, and social networking is king.
“About 250,000 jobs have left the automotive industry,” said David Graff, Microsoft’s U.S. Industry Solutions Director. “But after the economy turns around, there will be a race for market share and the millennials will be the next wave of buyers and workers.”
Microsoft did a survey of the millennial generation to determine what they were looking for in a workplace, as well as what they look for when buying a car.
The Millennial Employee
The current economic situation has taken its toll on many companies. Hiring is at a standstill at the moment, but companies in the automotive sector may find themselves dealing with a labor shortage in the future.
“OEMs are finding themselves with a fairly mature workforce that has plans to retire. In fact, the average age of an American autoworker is 55,” Graff said. “To make matters worse, many manufacturers aren’t prepared for their baby boomers to retire. They aren’t trying to capture their knowledge before it’s gone.”
For automakers, the millennials are a key market, as they are looking to enter the workplace and purchase vehicles on their own.
“They need to be able to reach the millennials, and in order to reach them, you need to look at the way you use technology,” he said.
Graff noted that companies tend to market themselves through traditional media, with a small portion stepping in to the realm of digital media.
According to Microsoft, millennials use various forms of technology in their day-to-day lives, including social networking sites (77 percent), instant messaging (71 percent), and wikis -- Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content -- (59 percent).
Eighty-seven percent of millennials surveyed said that being able to work with “newer, innovative technologies” in the workplace would make them more likely to consider a particular job. They also expect their employers to provide personal computers (62 percent), mobile and smartphones (32 percent), internal company instant messaging ability (32 percent), company intranet (49 percent), and virtual meetings (27 percent).
“You need to have a work environment that is attractive to the millennials,” Graff said. “They will expect things like video conferencing and instant messaging.”
The automotive industry is facing a particularly rough road regarding millennials, considering 56 percent said the industry is “old in general.” Additionally, 52 percent said it “does not offer career stability” and 53 percent said it has a “poor public image.”
As the baby boomers inch closer towards retirement, automotive companies need to be sure they are leveraging technology for a competitive advantage if they hope to reach the next generation.
And even if you’re not looking to hire, you’re still trying to sell your product. For automakers, that’s becoming an even bigger challenge.
The Millennial Consumer
According to the Microsoft study, 91 percent of respondents say they’ve done research before going to a car dealership. Fifty-two percent say they could take or leave the salesperson.
“Millennials have done their homework before the get to the dealership. They don’t need the salesperson to tell them about the cars; they already know,” Graff said. “In some cases, they may actually know more about the car and the marketplace than the salesperson.”
Eighty-nine percent of respondents said they will compare products, services and rates on company Web sites, and 65 percent said they would seek advice from third-party consumer sites.
Graff added that the millennials would be the type to be comfortable using a device rather than a human to make a purchase. They could use a machine to customize the car, check inventory, or explore financing options.
Ninety-one percent of survey respondents said it was important for automakers to have Web sites with a full view of purchase options and service history. Web-based auto financing and service requests (86 percent) and customization options, such as color and add-ons (87 percent) were also important to millennials.
When it comes to using technology for purchasing a new vehicle, 74 percent of respondents said they wanted the ability to visit company-hosted blogs to ask questions, and 52 percent wanted to get mobile alerts on new cars and prices.
“Companies need to adjust their sales and marketing techniques to reach the millennials,” Graff said. “The millennials consume the majority of their content online, and OEMs need to be ready for that.”
For more information, or to download a copy of the survey, visit http://www.microsoft.com/automotive