Millennials are quickly changing the membership structure in auto clubs and are redefining the products and services being offered to them.
Millennials, as they are popularly referred to, are emerging as a major consumer group with purchasing power never seen before in the past three generations. Young adults between 20 to 38 years old belong to this group. In the United States alone, they comprise 25 percent of the population and account for $200 billion in consumer spending.
Curt Steinhorst, certified speaker from the Center for Generational Kinetics of the United States, spoke extensively on how auto clubs should interact and communicate effectively with this generation during the 2015 FIA Mobility conference in London. If auto clubs do not change the way they reach out to this group, it will put their future in great peril.
Today, car sharing is becoming a widespread and popular means of transport, so it is estimated that the number of cars on the road will be reduced to only 10 percent of what it is today. This would be a drawback to clubs who generate memberships, with car ownership as their only compelling reason in marketing to Millennials.
Does this mean there will a major decline in membership of auto clubs? Steinhorst stated that this may not necessarily be the case. The creation or re-engineering of new products will continue to attract this group to auto clubs. The challenge that faces clubs is the creation of new and unique products and services that will not require the ownership of cars. And for Millennial car owners, the traditional model of Emergency Road Assistance (ERS) will have to be redefined. With the improved reliability of new cars, there is a reduction in the number of on-road breakdowns.
What compounds the challenge to ERS is the availability of this service from insurance companies. Steinhorst said that the differentiator that will attract Millenials to clubs will be the customer experience in an ERS incident. If clubs pay attention to how members are treated during a roadside emergency, they will continue to be relevant. Technology will have to be leveraged to improve the quality and the speed by which ERS is delivered to Millennials.
What is also critical, according to Steinhorst, is the way we engage and communicate with Millennials.
The traditional voice on the phone is now replaced by text messaging as the primary mode of communication. The next platform would be email. Clubs will likewise have to re-examine their presence in social media channels.
While Facebook is the most popular choice, there are others such as Linkedin, Twitter and the new systems that are proliferating in the Internet that should be tested by clubs on their effectiveness in reaching out to new members. These social media channels are where clubs will have to engage and communicate with Millennials.
Interesting content and the way it is presented therefore will be a major factor for these Millennial’s decision to join auto clubs in the future.
As an example, Steinhorst pointed out that the traditional Caravaning, or traveling across the country using your car or a mobile home, will have to change. Millennials are looking for unique experiences beyond simply pitching a tent in a camping area.