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Brief Published: 1 Jun 2016

Marketing Cars to Millennials

Chevrolet's Smallmate campaign

American lending exchange LendingTree has revealed the most popular cars among US millennials, based on its auto loan requests. Japanese automaker Nissan’s Altima came out on top, followed by classic American sedan the Dodge Charger, Japanese brand Honda’s Accord, and two models from US firm Chevrolet – the Impala and the Tahoe.

According to LendingTree, "the share of millennial auto loan requests has climbed from roughly 27% in early 2013 to about 34% in 2016, suggesting a return of younger buyers to the car market”. So what strategies are being applied by these millennial-friendly brands?

Last month, Chevrolet launched a sponsored ad campaign on Twitter that led potential millennial buyers to a mobile-optimised game, influenced by online quizzes made popular by entertainment site BuzzFeed. It matches them to their perfect “smallmate” ­– “an awesome yet small car ideally suited to being a close friend or adventuring partner”, in the brand’s own words.

The campaign taps into the millennial desire for content that speaks to their identity and provides interactivity, concepts explored further in our D&AD Festival 2016 report.

Similarly, in January 2016, Nissan targeted millennials with a gamified campaign to promote the Altima, based on the popular Cards Against Humanity game. Its Altimatums card game was designed to be played on the road, with challenges including “perform a dashboard drum solo”. Distributed via social media, it helped the Altima hit the top spot on LendingTree’s chart.

For more on marketing to millennials, see D&AD Festival 2016, Marketing to Generation Hip Hop, Healthcare Brands Target Gen Y and Youth Marketing Strategies 2016.

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