Parents of college-aged students complain: when you call a Millennial on their cell phone, it goes into voicemail. If you text them, they respond immediately.
“Why won’t they pick up my call?” parents lament.
It’s because the next generation - like ALL next generations - has different relationships with technology, information, and brands than their elders do. My aunts used to love American Bandstand, even thought my grandmother loathed it.
The wheel keeps on turning, people.
In addition to the text-don’t-call phenomenon, Millennials also feel that “Email is for old people.” Yes, they’ll learn to do it - just like many Xers learned to do ridiculous team building exercises with Boomers. But that doesn’t mean it’s their preferred mode of communication. It just means they know how to get along.
Now you can add one more to the list. For Millennials, cars aren’t cool. They’re envirohazards. Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser (who plays the creepy Pete Campbell) leads a car-free life, and loves it. As he explains in Sunday’s New York Times:
“‘It’s wonderful,’ he said. ‘Instead of driving and being stressed out about traffic, you can work your scene, you can do your exercises or whatever on the bus. Everyone’s got their own deal.’”
There was a time when not having a car was seen as a loser move. You went to the DMV and got your license, and the next day you were looking for used cars in the want ads. To have a car meant you were cool.
That’s so last century. Today, Millennials’ most important relationship is to their technology. And cars, well, they get in the way of that. You can’t text while driving. State law forbids it. You can’t check your Facebook status. They only thing you can really do is talk on your cell phone, and that - see the opening paragraph - is not cool.
As if Detroit needs one more kick to the head. Millennials represent a huge potential car-buying market, but they’re not taking the bait. In a world where taking away their phone causes more suffering than revoking their keys, those in the car business are going to have to rethink their next market.
Rumor has it Hertz is diversifying into the car sharing business.