Earlier this year, CarGurus released its inaugural Buyer Insight Report in the Canada, which analyzed the digital purchase paths of more than 1,500 buyers. To provide more insights into the mindset of the next generation of car buyers, we dug into the data to explore the differences among younger car buyers (Gen Z and Millennials) and more seasoned car buyers (Gen X and Boomers).1 The key takeaway? Younger car buyers are more brand-open and less certain about major decisions, which results in a higher likelihood that they take their time and compare their options to find the best deal possible.
Confidence in car buying and brand preference comes with age
According to our data, Gen Z buyers are the least likely to agree that they feel confident when car shopping, with Millennials close behind them. Many Gen Z buyers also haven’t made up their mind on car brand when they enter the market. Only half (50%) agree they have strong brand preferences, compared to 59% of Millennials and Gen X, and 64% of Boomers.
Younger car buyers are inexperienced and less likely to be certain on major decisions at the start
When it comes to vehicle selection, Gen Z and Millennial car buyers are inexperienced and less likely to be certain about what they want to buy and how they plan to buy it. Just over half (55%) of Gen Z and 61% of Millennial car buyers say they feel certain about what type of vehicle they want, versus 73% of Gen X and 75% of Boomers. Similarly, Gen Z and Millennial car buyers are less certain about other key factors, such as the price they’re willing to pay, whether to buy new or used, whether to purchase or lease, and whether to finance the purchase.
Gen Z buyers don’t rush into major decisions
While younger buyers are often excited about the idea of purchasing a new car, Gen Z car buyers are most likely to take their time. Not surprising considering that a car is often their biggest purchase yet and they don’t want to make any mistakes. 70% of Gen Z buyers said their purchase was only ‘a little/somewhat urgent’ compared to 56% of Millennials, and only 13% of Gen Z said their purchase was ‘very/extremely urgent’ compared to 27% of Millennials. As a result, Gen Z report taking the longest time to buy — 6 weeks on average. Boomers follow with approximately 5 and a half weeks on average, then Millennials with 5 weeks, and lastly Gen X with 4 and a half weeks on average.
Gen Z buyers are yours to lose even once they come through your door
Gen Z and Millennial buyers are more willing to visit multiple dealers and much more likely to continue comparison-shopping while at the dealership. 91% of Gen Z buyers and 79% of Millennials say they continued to research at the dealership with their mobile phone. Most common methods of mobile research include checking vehicle specs, comparing info to what they see online, and shopping competitors.
Overall, Gen Z and Millennial car buyers are accustomed to having unlimited information at their fingerprints, so it’s crucial to make sure your stock and pricing information is consistent, up-to-date, and comprehensive across all channels. You can better connect with them by offering transparency from the start and providing resources to guide them on some of the key buying decisions.
- Definitions: Gen Z (18-24 years old), Millennial (25-39 years old), Gen X (40-54 years old), and Boomers (55-65 years old)