Market Overview

New Report from Allison+Partners Uncovers a Shift from Car Culture to Mobility Culture


Intersection of technology and transportation driving change; Gen Z
to drive it forward

A new
from 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,
dubbed 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. "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

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. "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.


Allison+Partners, an MDC
company, is a global marketing and communications agency
driven by a collaborative approach to innovation and creativity. The
firm was named The Holmes Report's 2018 "Best Agency to Work For,"
PRWeek's 2018 "Best Place to Work," The Holmes Report's 2017 "Digital
Agency of the Year," The Holmes Report's 2016 "Asia Pacific Corporate
Consultancy of the Year," PRWeek's 2015 "Midsize Agency of the Year" and
In2 SABRE's 2015 "Most Innovative Agency." Allison+Partners has 30
offices worldwide and is organized around six practices: Consumer
Marketing, Corporate, Global China, Healthcare, Public Affairs and
Technology. All Told, which combines research, content, creative,
digital and measurement expertise into one offering, works across these
practices to deliver integrated storytelling for clients. The agency
also has a network and deep affiliations with firms worldwide through
MDC Partners (NASDAQ:MDCA), a progressive marketing and communications
network, championing the most innovative entrepreneurial talent. For
more information, visit

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