Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Quote of the week: Ford EcoSport brand marketing manager says Generation Z consumers view their cars as an extension of their phones.

Ford EcoSport
Ford EcoSport. Photo: Ford Media Center.
If feeling over-targeted by marketers is a pain-point for Millennials, just wait and see what could be in store for the next generation in line: Generation Z, a cohort that includes many who have not yet even reached the tender age of 18.

Now, as the Millennial-marketing juggernaut continues apace, Ford Motor Company showed a card or two in their demographic Texas Hold 'Em hand yesterday with a news release positioning Generation Z as the ideal consumer for the subcompact SUV segment, which the automaker exemplifies with their Ford EcoSport model.

“Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials—everybody wants their SUV, and Gen Z is no different,” Ford's U.S. sales analyst Erich Merkle said, in a statement. “As more new small SUVs like Ford EcoSport become available, you’ll see the subcompact SUV segment continue to climb as a popular new car of choice for first-time buyers.”

Merkle projects that  U.S. sales of subcompact SUVs among 18- to 24-year-olds will surpass those of subcompact cars by as early as next year. Ford also reports that, just four years ago, 18- to 24-year-olds in the United States purchased 8,121 subcompact cars and only 443 subcompact SUVs. In 2017, that same age group purchased 3,981 subcompact cars and 2,840 subcompact SUVs—a 541 percent spike for subcompact SUVs.

Depending on which demographics guru you ask, the birth years from Generation Z begin around 1995–1997 and end in the early 2000s. In their news release, Ford cites data indicating that Generation Z comprises about a quarter of the U.S. population.

Although Generation Z is stereotyped as enamored with ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft for their transportation needs, Ford cites a KBB/Autotrader study suggesting that rumors of the death of individual car ownership are greatly exaggerated, with 92 percent of Generation Z either owning or planning to own a vehicle.

Nevertheless, a tech-centric worldview apparently has a strong influence on the generation's vehicle preferences, with 35 percent listing the infotainment system as the most important component when selecting a vehicle, according to Ford.

But Karen Sullivan, Ford's EcoSport brand marketing manager, carries it a step further.

“To Gen Z buyers, connectivity is everything,” Sullivan said in the news release. “Their car serves as an extension of their phone and their home, and we’re seeing an exciting response from these young customers to our all-new EcoSport.”

Car as an extension of phone? Could that be just a wee bit of an oversimplification?

Maybe. But, just in case it isn't, here's some unsolicited advice for Generation Z-ers considering a vehicle purchase: ask your parents, or maybe even your Millennial older bro or sis, about factors other than the infotainment system that you might want to think about before you sign a promissory note on that subcompact SUV that Ford says you're yearning for.

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