The ask: Gen Z, the youngest generation, has seen a significant drop in license holders, which has sparked concern among car manufacturers and dealerships. To understand what this generation wants in a car we did a deep culture dive here's a collection of truths and quotes from our dive!
How we got smart/Research Methods
One on One Interviews
“Driving makes me nervous because it’s a lot of responsibility." - Valentina, 17
Although driving may have taken a dip among teenagers, there is still a strong appeal among some!
but at the same time it makes my life a lot easier in terms of getting around to school, sports, and other activities.” - Erin, 16
“I got my license as soon as I could. I like the freedom it gives me to make my own plans.”
- Lisa, 17
1. Safety is super important to young drivers today. They want customizable cars with must-have safety features like lane assist, rearview cameras, and blind spot alerts.
T hese must-have safety features are becoming increasingly important for young drivers who are keen to take every precaution necessary to avoid potential accidents. This underscores a growing trend towards the prioritization of safety and the need for customizable cars that cater to this demand.
“The thing I get asked most when the car is for a teen is 'How safe does it drive?" - Richmond Used Car Dealer
"They [gen z] Are looking for technology that makes driving easier, not necessarily more fun, things that older cars don't have.” -Virginia Beach Used Car Dealer
2. Cars are still a core gathering place for teens, despite the popularity of social media and if one friend has a car/license, they may drive their friends around
The impact of having access to a vehicle cannot be overstated, as it often serves as a conduit for socializing and exploring the world outside of one's immediate environment. This highlights the crucial role that cars play in the lives of young people and the importance of mobility and independence as a vital component of their social development.
"We usually meet up at someone’s house and then later in the night go get food somewhere.”
- Sophie, 17
“I normally hang out with my friends at each other's houses and we FaceTime pretty much everyday.” - Erica, 17
3. Despite the growing independence and decision-making power of teenagers, parents still hold the power when it comes to purchasing a car. Car dealers report that it’s usually parents who come in to get the car, even if they bring their teen with them. While the teen may have some input, the parents usually have the final say.
This highlights the enduring influence of parental guidance and decision-making in the lives of young people and underscores the importance of understanding the complex dynamics that shape the purchasing process for cars among families.
4. Teens today are all about mental health awareness, and they want car commercials to get it. They're looking for messaging that's relatable to their experiences and speaks to the struggles they face. It just goes to show that mental health is becoming more and more important to young people, and brands need to get with the program and create campaigns that really resonate with them.
Car culture has changed, and it's now more about how the driver feels about the features, functions, and responsibility of being behind the wheel, rather than just how the car feels to drive.
here is how Ford can leverage this
It's important to communicate the added benefits that safety features provide in terms of boosting confidence, reducing stress, and ultimately improving the driving experience. The next generation of drivers may be more comfortable with new technologies and more open to experimenting with advanced features like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and even self-driving technology.
Rethink who's driving what
The trend of diversifying the demographics of drivers, including the rise of women truck owners, is driving the need to rethink who is driving what and how to appeal to the next generation of drivers. t's essential to create marketing campaigns that speak to the unique needs and experiences of younger drivers.
Show relatable sentiments around teens’ driving journey as well as the common ways they may use their cars
When it comes to messaging around teens' driving journey, it's important to also address the impact that car ownership and driving can have on mental health. To show relatable sentiments around teens' driving journey and mental health, Ford can focus on the importance of self-care and stress management while driving and the emotional and mental benefits of driving, such as the sense of freedom and independence that comes with car ownership.
team: Anna Foster, Kate Coleman, Shaunda Lambert, Zack Ackerman
my role: interviewing a bunch teens, group discussions, secondary research, deck build & design, presentation