Exclusive Automotive trend report from US expert Lauren Fix, the Car Coach

Meet the new generation of Automotive customers

A whole new breed of customers are ‘taking the wheel’ and car companies need to find the fast lane that lead to those consumers or they will soon get left behind.

But how are customers’ expectations changing? What do they really want in 2015 – starting with discovery over the purchase and customer service experience to maintaining the car?

What are the key differences between different customer generations – or even between women versus men?

Will customers become more open to purchasing cars online and how are dealerships reacting to all this?

These are just a few of the exciting questions we’ve discussed with Lauren Fix, the Car Coach, who was kind enough to find time for us in her busy schedule, scattered with guest appearances in leading US media, commenting on breaking news in the industry.

Watch our exclusive video interview with US Automotive expert Lauren Fix:

Read the transcript of the interview here:

What are customers’ new expectations towards car companies?

Lauren: Customer service has always been the most important thing for the consumer. I think people’s expectations of cars and car brands are to be up on current technology, offer the top safety available at reasonable prices.

And then the problem with that is the cost of tooling, the cost of design and development. The cost of vehicles would then go up in order to meet the economy standards.

Are customers more demanding today?

L: I think consumers are very demanding.

Like standing in front of the microwave, they want instant service, instant satisfaction. We’re in the Millennial age of getting on the internet, getting an answer immediately.

So when they take their vehicles in for service, or a problem or recall, they wanna fix that the same day, they want another vehicle to use in the meantime. And sometimes, it is not the fault of the manufacturer, it could be poor maintenance and service on the part of the current owner.

So all these type of factors are things that consumers have to be aware of – and nothing happens overnight.

Women: the most important customers?

L: Women make 85% of the buying and maintenance decisions. We have 95% veto power. In other words if we say we’re not getting that car or having it repaired there, maintained there, then that’s the way it should be. Because usually, at least in North America, we tend to have a control of the budget.

From a United States standpoint, women own 60% of the cars on the road.

So it’s very important that manufacturers know how to take care of us from a customer service standpoint and build the cars that we want.

Customer experience: Baby Boomers vs Millennials

L: In order to access these people, you have to go where they are. It depends on the age generation where consumers find their automotive information.

If you’re looking at Baby Boomers (basically 50 and up) they have no problem looking at magazines and maybe going on the internet, talking to their friends, going in dealerships, picking up brochures…Maybe, taking a longer look at the process. It’s never a quick decision. It’s not a knee jerk or impulse reaction.

For the Millennial generations, or it could be Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials, they tend to have no problem with doing their research online.

And Millennials have no problem even buying the car online, without even driving it (which is not recommended). But they get the research, whether it be from Twitter, YouTube or any other social media platforms.

They don’t go to the dealership to pick up a brochure. They go in to do their final drive and they purchase on the spot. Or they do the whole process online, which is getting to be more and more common with the younger generation.

The changing dealership experience

I think that dealers are starting to realize that most of their sales are going to online purchases.

People are getting more comfortable with that.

And as Baby Boomers get older and the Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials and the newer generations are old enough to purchase cars at any price point, they will get more and more comfortable with purchasing it online.

Will that shrink the size of dealerships? Probably not. Will that consolidate them? Most likely.

The dealer will do whatever they have to do.

Some are much more progressive than others as far as being on the cutting edge of technology and how to reach those people, why others are still doing the old, traditional model.

Purchasing cars online?

L: Purchasing online is not a problem, I’ve purchased cars online for years, long before it became a trend. Especially if you’re looking for a collectible car or a specific car.

You should not be afraid to get online and contact the dealer halfway across the country. And you can actually get your best rates by competing online with other dealers and let them offer you the best price and whatever they can, because the service for that vehicle is good anywhere in the world.

About Lauren Fix:

Lauren Fix, the Car Coach is ‘America’s top woman in car care, education and auto industry news’. She literally knows cars inside out as she’s not only a widely recognized Automotive expert and a regular speaker on national television but a race car driver as well.

Hungry for more insights? Read the words of dealership expert Joe Webb of DealerKnows.