A new report from global comms firm Allison+Partners suggests that changing definitions of transportation and an influx of new mobility solutions are paving the way for the birth of a new culture—the mobility culture.
Resulting from the intersection of transportation and technology, this cultural shift will be driven forward by a new generation of consumers—those just now coming of driving/ride-sharing age. Much in the way Baby Boomers in their teens and twenties defined American car culture, Gen Z will ultimately become synonymous with mobility culture.
The study, The Birth of Mobility Culture, also explores implications for brand marketers as consumer values shift from “me” to “we” and access to new mobility options increase.
The report, based on a survey of U.S. consumers fielded in January 2019, reveals a clear shift in consumer attitudes, values and behaviors between generations and with more transportation options available than ever before.
Key findings that highlight this shift include:
Cars remain at the center of today’s transportation equation, but how they’re used is changing
While roughly 70 percent of licensed Americans drive their vehicles daily, 38 percent of those without a driver’s license say they have no need for one. With Gen Z, the numbers become even more significant—nearly 70 percent of Gen Z respondents do not have their driver’s license and 30 percent of those who do not currently possess their driver’s license have no intention or desire to get one.
Car culture shifts from “me” to “we”
Younger generations, including Gen Z, have begun to see automotive benefits that move beyond convenience to relaxation and social experiences. When asked why they would purchase an autonomous vehicle, Gen Z consumers cited relaxation as a primary factor (65 percent)—almost equal to convenience (67 percent).
For Gen Z, the car has become less aspirational
Gen Z sees cars more as appliances than any other generation, with more than half of Gen Z respondents (56 percent) indicating a car represents essentially no more than a means of transportation.
Technology and transportation have become synonymous
The excitement for autonomous technologies is driven by Gen Z, due largely to a high trust level with technology. Ultimately, 60 percent believe they will use autonomous vehicles by 2029.
“Not only will the car itself change drastically with the advent of new technology and mobility solutions, but its role in our lives and in culture will also evolve,” said Marcus Gamo, senior vice president and automotive specialty group lead at Allison+Partners, in a news release. “Our automotive practice was born out of an authentic passion for disruptive brands that are redefining mobility, with a deep understanding that the most important attributes of transportation for consumers are trust and loyalty.”
The report also reveals that despite changing American consumer values and behaviors, brands remain more relevant than ever. For marketers, however, the introduction of this new mobility culture will require a revamped approach to effectively garner consumer loyalty and advocacy:
Reinforce how technology enhances the experience
With consumers conditioned to expect technology innovation at a faster rate than the traditional new vehicle introduction timeline, it’s important for marketers to reinforce how technology features enhance the ride experience, contribute to vehicle safety and support a future where transportation options come together in concert.
Demonstrate an understanding of the shift from “me” to “we”
It will be more important to underscore the benefits of a particular mobility option to communities of people (such as a city, university or corporate campus), rather than to just individual drivers.
Focus on building relationships during the journey, not at the finish line
Younger consumers value authentic relationships with brands, and it takes time to foster that trust. Understand their values, what advancements in automotive technology excite them and, equally important, their concerns about the future of mobility. Use this information to inform how to communicate and engage with them about your brand.
Consider new avenues for introducing mobility options
The traditional auto show has been the core of how automakers, motorcycle brands, RV makers and others have introduced new vehicles to a rabid group of automotive enthusiasts. Due to this shift in values and attitudes, marketers must now plan for more values-based, communal and experiential local market activations, where influencers help create and share the story and consumers can experience brand value in a real and authentic way.
“As consumer relationships with cars evolve, automotive and transportation industry marketers must change how they engage with younger audiences, especially Gen Z,” said Lisa Rosenberg, co-chair of Allison+Partners’ Consumer Marketing practice, in the release. “Being headquartered in San Francisco with deep roots in technology, Allison+Partners has been at the forefront of cultural movements since our inception. We believe that brands that embrace this cultural shift and provide opportunities for consumers to be active participants are the ones that will win with a generation whose favorite currency is social.”
Allison+Partners compiled this report using data from an online survey of 1,035 people in the U.S. over the age of 16 conducted in January 2019. Fielding was conducted using the Qualtrics Insights Platform and the panel was sourced from Lucid.