It goes without saying that the automotive market has changed significantly over the past 12-24 months. For the second year in a row, CarGurus analyzed the path to purchase of more than 1,500 car buyers to offer an in-depth look at how today’s consumer journey is more complex than ever.
Below, we’ve highlighted five key takeaways from the CarGurus 2022 Buyer Insight Report, which you can use to inform your strategies for success.
Buyers are uncertain and brand-open at the start of their search
Most car buyers feel they need to stay open-minded in today’s challenging buying environment and are prone to switching behaviors. Two-thirds (66%) of buyers switch make and 86% switch model during the car-buying journey.
What this means for dealers: You might not have the make or model they were initially considering, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sway them to a vehicle you have in stock. Take the time to find out exactly what customers are looking for and then recommend vehicles based on their needs and preferences.
Auto-shopping sites and social media platforms are the leading online resources
Since buyers are more open-minded, they rely on digital channels more than ever to narrow down their options. Most car buyers (91%) report using at least one listings site while shopping for a car. Just shy of a quarter of buyers (21%) say that social media directly informed their car purchase, which is up from 17% a year ago.
What this means for dealers: Evaluate your dealership’s digital advertising presence and make sure you’re investing in the listings sites and social media platforms giving you a high ROI.
Buyers are increasingly turning to mobile devices
People have become more tech-savvy during the pandemic. As a result, more now use their mobile phones while on the forecourt. More than three-quarters of buyers (76%) use mobile devices to research in-store, which is up 29% since 2020. Top activities include checking vehicle specs, shopping other sellers, and reading car and dealer reviews for last-minute reassurance.
What this means for dealers: Make sure your dealership website is optimized for mobile. This means having a responsive website design, fast loading times, and an easy-to-navigate menu and site layout.
Fewer buyers are walking into dealerships without contacting them first
Buyers are almost as likely to contact a dealer online as they are to call or visit in person. One-third (33%) of buyers first contact a dealer via phone, 31% online, and 30% simply walked in.
What this means for dealers: Having contact with a consumer before they visit your lot gives you time to prepare for their visit – don’t waste this time. Get answers to any outstanding questions and ready the vehicle they’re in for a test drive.
Interest in digital retail has accelerated due to the pandemic
Nearly two-thirds of buyers (61%) say they would prefer to do more of the car-buying process from home for their next purchase. For now, the test drive remains the biggest deterrent to a completely digital purchase.
What this means for dealers: Start introducing digital retail into your sales process and make sure your staff is trained on how to handle digital retail leads.
The insights in this year’s report underscore the value of leveraging an omnichannel marketing approach that caters to changing buyer preferences and unlocks the power of your digital retail offerings. For more information, download the full CarGurus 2022 Buyer Insight Report.