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Allison+Partners’ latest industry report, The Birth of Mobility Culture, explores the implications for brand marketers of changing definitions of transportation. The study uncovered a shift from car culture to mobility culture, one that will be driven forward by Gen Z. Senior Vice President and Automotive Specialty Group Lead Marcus Gamo introduced the new study at a communications panel with executives from Toyota, Uber and Trōv. In this installment of “Say So,” he and agency Chief Creative Officer Lisa Rosenberg discuss what stood out, as well as the impact mobility culture may have on the future of how we get from here to there.
Marcus: I’m still amazed at how far we’ve come so quickly in accepting and consuming new modes of transportation. I had to laugh during one of our conversations about the thought that we were warned not too long ago about the risks of getting together with a stranger you’d meet online … or getting into a car with a stranger for a ride. Now, it’s incredibly common, accepted and rewarded for using our smartphones to Uber to a bar or restaurant to meet someone you’ve only connected with through Tinder! This really does speak to a dramatic shift in our values and behavior. What really stood out to me from the study and our panel conversation was that the birth of this new culture was sparked by our youngest group of consumers – Gen Z. These consumers are placing more emphasis on “we” values, such as shared time and experiences, rather than “me” values, which have defined other generations … especially Millennials.
Lisa: That is so funny! I remember telling my kids when they were little never to get in cars with strangers and, now that they are teenagers (and squarely Gen Z), they think nothing about hopping into an UberPool and heading to a party hosted by someone they “know” only on social. It will be interesting to see how mobility culture evolves as this generation drives it forward. I can imagine brands outside of the mobility space looking to partner with a rideshare service such as Uber or Lyft as a way to capitalize on these “we” values and offer customized, branded experiences that can be shared and enjoyed with others. Who’s to say that in a few years you won’t be able to order up a “Beauty Bar Uber” so that you and a girlfriend can have your hair and makeup done while in route to a night on the town.
Marcus: I think you’re exactly right! If we look around our current mobility world today, there’s a real desire for drivers and passengers alike to rethink how they spend time on the road. The infotainment system of the past, with those in the car passively listening to music, a podcast or even taking a call, will look much more like James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke. We heard from Gen Z that they value a connection between mobility and engagement, especially with each other. If the entertainment value of the drive or ride experience is determined by the time spent with others, we can imagine the positive benefits. No longer is that drive home from work a commute. It’s a happy hour that doesn’t focus on the total time spent in the car. This may open people to the idea of moving and traveling further out from a city center, and create new communities, jobs and economic centers.
Lisa: I think you’re on to something, especially when you consider the behaviors and preferences of Gen Z. This is a generation that’s just now entering the workforce for the first time. From what we’ve seen, they are going to flip today’s discussion of work-life balance on its head and will expect flexibility when it comes to how, when and where they work. If a commute is no longer the dreaded drag that it is for many today, we may see a generational shift away from urban centers and a return to the great outdoors. I can see it now – 20-somethings traversing the New York tri-state in the Jetson’s-like pods from my favorite television show growing up, while enjoying breakfast with friends before parachuting down to their offices’ drop zone in time for their first morning meeting. If that’s the mobility culture we’re driving towards, sign me up – it sounds like fun!
Marcus Gamo is a Senior Vice President and the agency's Automotive Specialty Group Lead and Lisa Rosenberg is the agency's Chief Creative Officer.