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New MTV Study Refutes Assertion That Millennials Are Driving Less

Research shows that eight in 10 Millennials get around most often by car as opposed to any other form of transportation – a stark contrast to studies in recent years that show driving on the decline among young people.

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MTV, a division of Viacom, recently unveiled its new research study, “Millennials Have Drive,” at the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention and Expo 2015, uncovering an increase in young people’s passion for cars and car ownership with three in four young people agreeing they would rather give up social media for a day than their car and 72 percent agreeing they would rather give up texting for a week than their car. Additionally, the study unearthed key points of entry for the automobile industry to win over this segment of the population with more targeted car advertising, increased customization options and a more transparent buying process.

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The study was fielded in the spring of 2014 and included quantitative research of 3,610 Millennials ages 18-34, 400 Gen Xers and 403 Boomers, as well as qualitative field studies, focus groups and one-on-one interviews. The results represent the first wave of research coming from Viacom’s brands in the car category. A second automobile study will be released later in 2015.

“Millennials are perhaps the most sophisticated consumers the world has ever seen – highly educated, demanding and incredibly adept at using technology to make thoughtful purchases,” said Jeff Lucas, head of sales, Music and Entertainment, Viacom Media Networks. “We want to understand how Millennials’ attitudes toward car ownership are changing as they grow older, the economy improves and the auto sales landscape evolves.”

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Added Berj Kazanjian, senior vice president, Ad Sales Research, MTV, “The insights gleaned from this first auto study show a generation that emphasizes car ownership and the critical role it plays in their day-to-day lives. Millennials, like other generations, see car ownership as a way to establish independence, but Millennials also see car ownership as a way to craft their unique adult identity.”

The findings establish that eight in 10 Millennials get around most often by car as opposed to any other form of transportation – a stark contrast to studies in recent years that show driving on the decline among young people. This shift in driving behaviors and attitudes towards automobiles can be attributed to Millennials aging up into car ownership, an improving economy and the fact that more Millennials are able to afford cars now than a few years ago. As a result, young people claim to drive more miles per month than any other generation with a self-reported 72 percent increase in the average number of miles driven versus Boomers (934 miles vs. 544 miles) and an 18 percent increase versus Gen X (934 miles vs. 790 miles).

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Millennials’ passion for driving versus other generations is underscored with 70 percent saying they “like driving a lot” versus 58 percent of Boomers and 66 percent of Gen Xers. Moreover, young people are exhibiting a broadening desire to buy and own cars:

  • 82 percent of Millennials find buying/leasing a new car exciting
  • Three in 4 young people feel like they couldn’t live without their current car
  • 85 percent of Millennials are looking forward to one day owning the car they’ve always wanted versus 59 percent of Boomers and 72 percent of Gen Xers
  • 73 percent of young people love learning about new car models and functions versus 69 percent of Boomers and 54 percent of Gen Xers

While the overall sentiment toward car ownership is overwhelmingly positive, “Millennials Have Drive” offers several insights into ways the buying experience can be improved and better serve the generation. In fact, eight in 10 young people believe the buying or leasing of a car should take less time. Additionally, 71 percent agree that ratings and comparisons among vehicles are often unclear, and 87 percent say the buying process should be more transparent.

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Millennials see owning a car as more than just a big-ticket purchase of four wheels and an engine with 87 percent agreeing, “I enjoy customizing the things I own and experiences I have to make them uniquely for me.” When specifically asked about cars, almost three in four (73 percent) agreed, “it’s important their car reflect who they are,” and 81 percent said they wish there were “more affordable ways to customize my car,” a significant jump from Boomers (55 percent) and Gen Xers (68 percent).

On the advertising front, 57 percent of young people agree that car advertisements influence their purchasing decisions, which ranks significantly higher than Boomers (33 percent) and Gen Xers (42 percent). However, one in two do not feel that current car advertisements speak to who they are.

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Click HERE to review the executive summary of “Millennials Have Drive.”

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