Press release

86% of buyers research their next car in the evening

Auto Trader urges dealers to bolster ‘night watchmen’

Latest research from Auto Trader’s Annual Buyer Behaviour Study1 reveals:

  • Mobile and tablet devices are generating two thirds of overall traffic to autotrader.co.uk; the majority of searches take place after 6pm
  • 50% of used car buyers only visit one forecourt, but most will visit more than three dealer websites
  • More and more franchise, supermarkets and independents see ‘walk-ins’ as first point of contact with a customer

Auto Trader has shed further light on the changing face of car buying, with a rise in evening research, fewer forecourt visits and more customers arriving on site without having made any prior contact with sales staff. So today the company is reminding all retailers to focus carefully on their ‘night watchmen’, the online points of contact that drive leads when doors are shut and when buyers are searching.

The second Annual Buyer Behaviour Study1 conducted by GfK for Auto Trader, pooled the experience of 1,300 car buyers spanning a three month period into quarter one 2015. The sample comprised 16 dealers, four franchise groups (representing more than 250 dealerships with an even split between new and used car purchases), ten independents and two car supermarkets, making this one of the most comprehensive studies of its type in the industry.

Evening multi-screening is the new norm:

Two thirds of traffic to the Auto Trader site is generated by mobile and tablet and research shows that more are searching in the evening. 86% of consumers now search for their next car after 6pm.

While buyers do search at other times of the day, just 24% of desktop users, 18% of tablet searchers and 36% of smartphone users said they were most likely to search between the hours of 9 and 6pm when dealers’ doors are typically open.

Half of buyers visit only one forecourt

50% of franchise customers visited only the dealer from whom they bought their car compared with 47% for supermarkets and 51% for independents. The decline in dealer visits contrasts with an increase in the number of referrals to online showrooms. Most people visit at least three as part of the buying journey, with the average standing at nearly five.

Increase in ‘walk-ins’ as first point of contact for your dealer

Walk-ins are now the first point of consumer-dealer contact in 58% of transactions. For franchise dealers, the research revealed a higher figure at two thirds or 66%, compared with 50% when asked the same question a year ago.

A slightly lower figure was reported for car supermarkets. 63% of customers made first contact through a walk-in while, for independents, the figure was much lower albeit still nearly half of all transactions (48%).

“This latest research continues to frame a buying journey where a forecourt visit is increasingly the affirmation of a decision made following extensive research online,” commented Nick King, market research director. “In this new online environment things like full page ad views and a content-rich,responsive dealer website become key tools in driving leads. They are the night watchmen for your dealership, the professional face of your online business that drive leads out-of-hours, or in the absence of any active engagement with you or a member of your team.”

Auto Trader will report further findings from the report in the weeks to come and will repeat the study annually.

Ends.

Note to editors:

  1. The Annual Buyer Behaviour Study (previously known as the Dealer Sourcing Study) was set up to get a better understanding of consumer behaviour and journeys when buying a car through franchise, independent and supermarket retailers. The second study built on a pilot undertaken last year. Consumer sales data was supplied to Auto Trader by participating dealers. This was then supplied to research agency GfK. GfK conducted telephone surveys with 1,300 customers (624 franchise, 376 independents and 300 supermarkets) over a three month period, asking about their buying journey and experience.

For all trade media enquiries, please contact:

Nigel Wonnacott, PR Director at JJ Marketing, on 07802 483 971 or nigel.wonnacott@jjmarketing.co.uk

Hard to believe it's been a month already since the #ATAwards Congratulations again to all of our amazing winners & finalists, truly setting the bar for the whole industry. Just in case your memory of the big day's a little blurry 🍾🥂...this should help! https://t.co/0lzce9KP1D https://t.co/M6WsOJUY09
We’re back on TV throughout September. We’ll be educating buyers about dealer finance and promoting Auto Trader as the perfect destination for their next car. Don't miss out, make sure your ads include finance options https://t.co/dQ7BVlmX6t https://t.co/YqMciTF2qH
According to the @SMMT this morning, the 'UK used car market is in good health with more than 2 million sales in Q2'. For the full Q2 used car transactions results, including the top 10 most popular models, please visit: https://t.co/LzZvQDtPv0 https://t.co/Ys84hVtkVH
If you’re a franchise retailer selling brand new cars, we’ve got an exciting new solution designed to help reduce the need to pre-reg. Best of all, it’s free of charge until 2019. To find out more, watch this short webinar, available on demand now. https://t.co/FeUgwgsrTf https://t.co/uUtUdlQaog
If you’re a franchise retailer selling brand new cars, we’ve got an exciting new new solution to help reduce the need for pre-reg. Best of all, it’s free of charge until 2019. To find out more, watch this short webinar, available on demand now. https://t.co/FeUgwgsrTf https://t.co/Q9u1A4IbEi
Earlier this year, @RedlineCarsUK released the findings of its Customer & Follower Poll 2017. The results offer a fascinating look at the preferences, influences & buying behaviours of 600 of their customers. Invaluable insight & definitely worth a look! https://t.co/dRgz7PvlIl https://t.co/AWfH5zEXQD
Our bikes team has been busy working on this year's Auto Trader Best Bike Awards with the help of the brilliant @AndrewShim...we can't wait to find out all the winners next week. Stay tuned!🏆🏆🏆 https://t.co/9YNsBAA5U0
Despite female car ownership reaching a record 11.8 million in 2017, 13% of women find the in-store experience uncomfortable & 94% don’t trust car dealerships. Why? Our study found a lack of gender diversity was the key contributing factor. Let's work together #diveristyinauto https://t.co/tJzY7UvrVt
If you missed Tuesday's @AutoRetail #ARNLive webinar with Andy Bruce (@LookersGroup), Dale Wyatt (@SuzukiCarsUK) & Naomi Hahn discussing the implications of WLTP, the market outlook & best practice, don't worry as it's now available 'on-demand'. Enjoy! https://t.co/iHYwXKeFNa https://t.co/C4bWBIRH2u
We're all set in the green room for this morning's @AutoRetail #ARNLive at 9am. Remember you can ask our panel - Andy Bruce, Dale Wyatt and Naomi Hahn - any questions you may have either on Twitter or through your webinar platform. Log on here https://t.co/iHYwXKeFNa https://t.co/LLVk4f7SH7

Auto Trader Group plc
Registered in England (Company number: 09439967)

Auto Trader Limited
Registered in England and Wales (Company number: 03909628)

Registered address:

1 Tony Wilson Place
Manchester
M15 4FN
VAT number: GB 614 8918 20

Keep in touch

We use social media to speak to the UK’s largest car buying audience