Reaching the next generation of vehicle consumers

  • 14-Apr-2014 01:13 EDT
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DUB Magazine's Myles Kovacs told an SAE 2014 World Congress crowd: "It costs the same amount of money to make something look bad as it does to make it look good." Kovacs started working at a Los Angeles rim shop as a 16-year-old. While still a teenager, he became a custom wheel designer.

With keen observational skills and straight talk, a street-smart 40-year-old entrepreneur makes connections with that elusive younger generation of car buyers known as Generation Y.

“I work with a lot of youth organizations and do speaking all over the world. And the beautiful thing about that is I’m able to engage with this generation that’s very elusive. I’m able to talk with them and understand how they feel, the way they think, and what they like,” Myles Kovacs, President and Co-Founder of DUB Magazine, told an SAE 2014 World Congress audience.

As the keynote speaker on the final day of SAE World Congress activities, Kovacs’ freewheeling talk had trend-spotter reporting on the likes and dislikes of Generation Y, a group that in 2020 is predicted to account for more than 40% of the U.S. workforce. “So it’s an important group to really look at,” quipped Kovacs, who with his wife Cynthia appeared on the first season of the “Secret Millionaire” reality TV series.

It wasn’t until 2013 that the younger generation started to find vehicles appealing. “They were not into cars. It wasn’t that they didn’t think cars were sexy, they just saw their parents and grandparents struggling to pay for a car note and home. They won’t do that unless it makes sense financially,” he said.

One thing they really, really, really like is smartphones, or what Kovacs refers to as pocket computers: “These pocket computers are going to be their hub for their whole life.”

Apple turned the portable communication tool into a cool device.

“Look what Apple did for the cell phone industry. Who’s going to be the Apple for the auto industry and just turn it upside down?” Kovacs asked. “If Apple would have come out with the iCar, it would have made all the other cars obsolete.”

It’s the experience that Apple sells to consumers. “Apple is the largest-grossing company in the nation and they make absolutely nothing that we need, but everything that we want.”

One thing that young consumers don’t want, according to the man Newsweek named as one of the nation’s 10 Big Thinkers for Big Business in the 21st Century, is technology duplication. “The consumer of tomorrow will not pay for technology twice. They’re going to get it on their smartphone, so they don’t want to pay for it in-home or in-vehicle.”

While the young generation adores texting, taking videos, playing games, adding apps, and doing other things with their smartphones, Kovacs is old-school. “I’m a low-tech guy, but I’m still a consumer. I have a phone in my pocket. I only use it for a phone.”

The young generation also does not want a car that drives for them. “They already have that; they have their parents,” Kovacs sarcastically confirmed. “They want an affordable car that’s reliable, that looks great, that puts out a small impact to the environment.”

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