Focus on Automotive: Gen Z car buyers ready to drive positive change

With Zs, the next generation of consumers has arrived—both in the showrooms and on the roads. The youngest Zs, well into their high school years, are old enough to learn how to drive, and considering their first second-hand car: In fact, 13% of Zs intend to purchase a used car in the next 12 months.1 Meanwhile, older Zs are entering the workforce, shaping their careers, and starting families of their own. And they’re seeking brand new cars for the first time: 17% say they intend to purchase a new car in the next 12 months.2

Still, Zs know relatively little about auto brands and have a low level of loyalty in this category, even though their car will likely be the second most expensive item they purchase in their lifetime. This knowledge gap gives auto brands a unique opportunity to use automotive marketing to educate next-gen consumers at the start of their journey towards purchasing their first set of wheels. If you miss the opportunity to build brand love with Zs now—and remain focused on older generations—you may not get another chance to reach these young consumers for years to come.

We spoke with Spotify’s Category Development Officer for Global Automotive, Craig Weingarten, for more on how digital streaming audio can drive connection with Gen Z car buyers...

Q: How are Zs a different kind of auto consumer than previous generations?

“I use the example of my teenage daughter a lot; she's a pretty typical Gen Z. When she gets into my car, satellite radio is the first thing that plays. And that's fine for most people given its selection of music genres and artists—but not for her. She doesn't even know what terrestrial radio is. My daughter immediately plugs in her phone and listens to Spotify. She wants what she wants, when she wants it. That's a good message for brands given this generation will at some point be the predominant new car buyers.”

Q: Gen Zs are not only a different kind of consumer, but they’re also entering an auto marketplace that contrasts sharply with that of previous generations, right?

“Definitely. There's this monster disruption happening in automotive right now. For a hundred years, they built a gas engine, and now they have the technology to build an electric vehicle. Those cars are too expensive for most Zs at this point, and they’re not going to purchase one in the next month or six months. But we know that Gen Zs care about social responsibility and technology—and that gives the automotive industry a precious insight into future Gen Z car buying trends. They care about what you stand for as a company, and the environment is incredibly important to them. So, eventually, Gen Zs will be the largest consumers of electric cars. Every auto brand has that top of mind.”

  • 55%

    More than half (55%) of Zs say they align with brands that represent their values.¹

  • 1/10

    1 in 10 of Gen Zs say they intend to purchase an electric vehicle.¹

Q: Having an innovative product is important to Zs. What about when it comes to marketing innovation—what kind of messaging connects with Zs?

“Auto brands still have time to educate the youngest Zs before they make their first purchase, so getting your message out in relevant ways is very important. At Spotify, we know how to do that. We know that Gen Z really trusts audio ads delivered in a familiar tone of voice. We also know they’re really trusting of brands that understand their music. Connecting through these cultural components is going to be key.

A good example of this approach in action is the custom experience Spotify developed for SEAT Germany, which was aimed at young urban audiences. Spotify developed a personal “Moving Score,” measuring the danceability of users' latest streams. Then we sent users a personalized playlist that matched their music taste, from sporty to sleek, along with a recommendation for the perfect SEAT Ibiza configuration based on their favorite tunes. The campaign got users dancing in their seats—literally.

The other important thing for auto is scale. Other industries are focused on a specific type of ad unit or a specific moment; auto needs numbers. The good news is that Spotify reaches more Gen Zs than other platforms.2 In 2021, Gen Zs streamed music more often than they used other media (including video, games, and TV).1 And 65% of Gen Zs stream music everyday, while just 45% stream video daily.1

For more on how brands can connect with Gen Zs, check out the full Culture Next 2022 report.

  1. Spotify Culture Next survey, MAR-APR'22
  2. Comscore Media Metrix, Desktop 2+ and Total Mobile 13+, Market=US, Age=13-24, February 2021

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