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Why the aftermarket can’t keep ignoring Millennial expectations


Years ago, the taxi industry in Toronto thought they would be insulated from Uber thanks to their complex medallion system and legacy way of doing business.

Well, riders kept choosing Uber and the taxi industry — in Toronto and elsewhere — is not nearly as strong as it was before.

It’s this type of example that J.D. Ney, Canadian automotive practice lead at J.D. Power, used as a warning to point out that it’s the automotive aftermarket’s “folly to ignore, kind of, these broader disruptors.”

What he was emphasizing was that when people see services or have experiences that they like in other industries, they start to expect that in other areas.

For example, led by younger generations, consumers believe they should be able to pay you through an app instead of standing in line and waiting to be served. Or they should be able to book an appointment online to have their vehicle repaired — not call, hope someone answers, hope to not be put on hold and then have to talk to someone to book an appointment.

And if you’re thinking this is a Millennial problem, then you need to re-evaluate who Millennials actually are, Ney pointed out. They’ve been discussed for so long and so much that people still think of Millennials as petulant, annoying high schoolers who will eventually grow up and behave like their Baby Boomer parents.

Except they have grown up. And they don’t act like their Boomer parents. The oldest Millennials are in their 40s.

“If we can’t sort out how to provide an intuitive, easy, highly satisfying retail experience to a group of people that are 40 years old today, we’re already kind of missing the boat,” Ney said during the session The evolution of customer experience at AIA Canada’s National Conference.

He also pointed out that, soon, Millennials will be buying more cars than their Boomer parents — the first time the older age group won’t be the dominant buying cohort.

“If we’re missing the expectations of this massive cohort of customers, then what are we going to do about the next generation[after them]? Because [they have] even more accelerated digital expectations in this space,” he warned.

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