OEMs must understand generational differences

Dagmar Grossmann

On every occasion people are discussing the aviation market. Will it go up or down? Will it stabilize? I gave up on my feelings for this kind of prediction. Too often I was wrong. Looking at all the OEMs and operators and potential markets, the choices are just amazing. New prospects multiplied by new models within the fleet of manufacturers give more opportunities to new buyers. Bankers are ready, even if their models of bridge financing are slightly different from the products operators and owners would like to get. All these assumptions are made every day, everywhere, without taking into consideration one small thing, without taking the most unimportant factor into account – the buyer, the customer, the real customer in the future – Generation Z. 

Generation Z is different

The new customer is a member of generation Y and even more precise, the future customers are generation Z. These were people born around the millennium or around 1990. Poor lambs, they are still in their teens, and we put a labels on them — Gen iPhone, iGeneration. They are too young to really remember 9/11, but they have grown up in political and financial turmoil. They are the first generation being protected, really overprotected, with all their needs and dreams fulfilled. They are raised by helicopter parents, who step back for the sake of their beautiful children’s luck.  But unlike the older generation Y, they are smarter, safer and more mature and they want to change the world. According to marketing firm Sparks & Honey, 65 percent of generation Z wants to have an impact on the world, the environment, and the economy. That is compared to 39 percent for millennials.

Many GenXers believe they live in an individualistic world in which there is no common interest, and people do best by looking out for their own interest. As with other purchases and investments, GenXers believe that their children’s education should be a fair and open transaction with complete and accurate information and unconstrained consumer choices. They will evaluate the transaction on the basis of the value it appears to offer. Some GenXers may skip the discussion stage entirely and move immediately to a decisive action. 

GenXers like to compartmentalize, viewing every transaction as a menu-driven series of discrete and modular choices. They never give you real signs where they stand with their real decision.

Many will want to split experience into its components and pick and choose exactly what they want to get for themselves in order to have a competitive advantage, no matter if this is a house, a car or a jet.


Breaking down Generation Z

Why does this matter to aviation?

So all the marketing departments are preparing according to their experience and following the historical data that they have gathered for decades. Most of them are baby boomers, and this is their way of  business. However, what we need in the next few years in aviation is a 180-degree turn. We need flexible OEMs with creative payment schedules and banks that will understand the value of various balance sheets in the non-classic way.

Also read: GAMA report shows delivery decline

Loads of young billionaires are on the way, and they are all interested in conquering the world but maybe not as sole owners, and for them it matters how and when and most of all for how much they can sell their business jet for. The good news is that GenXers are not really interested in customized aircraft, just in flying them from A to B and taking all their friends with them. No fuss.

As for each and every generation and now the GenXers is the fear of failure by previous generations, but they will not fail. The differences are just too big, and it means for all of us from generation X, to generation Y and baby boomers – it is time for a change.

Some suggestions

  • Assume no trust
  • Market to them
  • Spell out the rules and start relationships early
  • Stress personal accountability and personal contribution
  • Offer data, standards, transparency and most of all return on investment
  • Offer real-time service

Dagmar Grossmann wanted a life in fashion. She instead has devoted her career to the aviation industry, as CEO of Grossmann Jet Service and founder of the Central Europe Private Aviation (CEPA) EXPO.