What Zipcar can teach you about millennials (and why you should pay attention)

Wed, 2014-01-29 06:00 -- Liz Enbysk

Council Associate Partner Zipcar just released results from its fourth annual independent study examining millennials’ (18-34 year olds) evolving attitudes towards transportation, technology and what’s next in their lives compared to older generations. If you have a say in your city's transportation and technology planning, you may want to pay attention to how the millennials differ from their elders in those areas in particular.

This year’s survey of more than 1,000 U.S. residents revealed that despite millennials’ differences in the areas of technology and transportation, they are surprisingly similar to older generations on what they value, how they give to the greater good, and key components of their American Dream. You can read more about that here.

Drilling down on survey results related to transportation, highlights include:

    • More than half of millennials (53%) claim that high costs of maintenance, parking, and gas make it difficult for them to own a car, while only 35% of older generations feel the same

    • 17% of 18-24 year olds don’t even have a license

    • More than 50% of Millennials say they would drive less if other transportation options, like public transit and car sharing, were available in their area, with 35% reporting that they are actively seeking substitutions for driving, both significantly higher adoption rates than older counterparts

Despite those numbers, Zipcar officials suggest, it’s clear that transportation mobile applications still need to reach a tipping point with older audiences, as only 10% indicate that these apps reduce their travel use. However, 24% of millennials are twice as likely to point to these apps (such as Zipcar) as a reason for a decrease in their driving.

Also interesting are results in the technology arena. Zipcar notes that millennials are the only generation that believes losing their phone would have a greater negative impact on their life than losing their car.

Other findings reveal:

    • Nearly 40% of millennials chose their mobile phone over their car, TV, or computer/tablet compared to only 16% of those in the 35+ age bracket

    • 40% of Americans ages 35+ say it would be harder to lose their a car than a mobile phone, computer/tablet or TV

While the mobile phone continues to grow in popularity among all generations, Zipcar says this year’s survey saw a continued decline in the preference of a computer relative to a mobile phone among any generation, especially millennials, whose preference for a computer dropped 10% from last year’s survey. However, four in 10 millennials this year still use online networks to replace driving trips to see friends.

“From driving less, to preferring mp3 over mpg, to valuing experiences over possessions, this generation has a fundamentally different approach to living than their elders,” said Zipcar President Mark Norman. “Yet the data shows that their lifestyle aspirations are similar – a good job, a nice place to live and the ability to enjoy life’s great experiences.  It shows the power of the American Dream is not diminished, but rather enhanced, by technology and innovation.”