Conventional wisdom for the last few years has been that young people don’t like to drive, don’t want to drive and, therefore, won’t be stopping by the car wash in the same numbers their parents are. Like other baby boomer industries on the cusp of shifting values, the car wash industry has been watching and worrying whether Generation Y, also known as Millennials, would continue to create demand.
A new study from Deloitte suggests that while all of the fears about Generation Y — that they can’t afford cars and prefer public transportation — seem to be true, people in their late teens, twenties and mid-thirties still love their cars. “There’s been a lot of conjecture about whether Gen-Yers even like driving,” Craig Griffi, a vice chairman at Deloitte, tells Cars.com. But it turns out that two-thirds of the 80 million members of that generation said they “love their cars,” according to the survey, which questioned 700 Millennials. Half of them said they planned to buy a new or used car in the next three years.
But it wasn’t all rosy. Cars.com says the survey revealed a lot of what we already know:
To be sure, Deloitte notes some of America’s car culture has been lost. Gen Y faces three barriers to vehicle shopping: needs being met by other transportation like walking, mass transit and car-sharing programs; operational costs such as fuel and maintenance; and vehicle affordability.
Probably more research needs to be done to determine what this means for the car wash industry. But either way, the results are a lesson that car wash owners can’t neglect this new target market, an entire generation whom sociologists say share common values. All 80 million of them have been of driving age for about four years now. Whether it’s social media or more innovative promotions, car wash businesses should be developing marketing methods for reaching them.