7th September 2017 – London: According to the latest study from Auto Trader, the UK’s largest new and used car marketplace, the modern car buying journey is, for many car buyers, a stressful and daunting process, with 85% of consumers entering the process expecting it to be hard.
What’s more, consumers are open to influence much further into the car buying process than previously thought, presenting significant opportunities for retailers and manufacturers alike.
The Car Buyers Report, Auto Trader’s most comprehensive study into the car buying journey to date, revealed six key stages to purchasing a car: Contemplation; Triggers; Consideration; Preferences; Decision; and Purchase. However, as a result of today’s abundance of information and available options, rather than a simple linear journey, the process has become a frustrating game, much like snakes and ladders.
The study, which tracked every element of the car buying process, revealed that even late into the process, a piece of new information (e.g. car advertisement, peer recommendation etc.) can result in sending a car buyer back to the beginning of their journey. In fact, even as late as stage four (the Preference stage), where a car buyer would typically be narrowing down their preferences, 49% of buyers changed their mind about the make they were considering at least once, 48% about the model and 40% the type of car. Critically, over a third (36%) of buyers are still actively considering both new and/or used cars at this stage. This highlights the lack of loyalty amongst car buyers as well as the fact that consumers do not enter the market looking for a new or used car, but rather their next car.
The Report found that car buyers have a limited amount of mental effort they’re prepared to invest, and the fatigue created by the current process resulted in as many as 60% giving up their search for their ideal car and just making a purchase out of exhaustion. This was even more prevalent with younger buyers: 75% of 17-24 year olds stated they were ‘tired of looking around’. Worryingly, 85% of car buyers don’t think the car they had purchased was their ‘perfect car’.
Ian Plummer, Auto Trader’s Manufacturing and Agency Director, commented: “The complex nature of today’s car buying journey presents genuine opportunities for both retailers and manufacturers. Fatigued consumers are clearly looking for brands that are able to simplify the process, the options and the offers available. What’s more, the frequent flipping between new or used, make or model, means consumers are no longer looking for a new car or a used car, but rather their next car. Targeted digital marketing can not only influence the purchase decision, but also create the opportunity to both retain loyal customers, as well as attract new ones, even at the final stages of their journey.”
The Report highlighted how important reassurance was throughout the car buying journey. For many, the immediate overload of information often leads to confusion and ‘analysis-paralysis’. Younger buyers (18-24) rely heavily on advice from their friends (46%) and parents (45%). In contrast, almost half (48%) of 45-64 year olds will look for advice from third party sites, such as Auto Trader. In fact, 57% of all car buyers surveyed said that Auto Trader was the most influential website whilst searching for the latest car purchase.
Ian continued: “It’s clear there is a huge amount of uncertainty amongst consumers, which means the need for trust is greater than ever. This can be achieved by offering a fully transparent customer experience, facilitated by unbiased, independent reviews, videos and strong imagery, coupled with a choice of cars that are in tune with the local market that are transparently and accurately priced.”
To read the findings in full, please download Auto Trader’s Car Buyers Report, by visiting: https://trade.autotrader.co.uk/articles/car-buyers-report/
About the Car Buyers Report
For this study, we recruited 40 households actively looking for a new car, representing a mix of ages, genders and regions, as well as type of car buyer: new, used, those that had just started looking and those who had been searching for months. Each person used a bespoke app to log ‘in the moment’ experiences over four weeks, resulting in 400+ individual moments, including seeing cars that sparked their interest, conversations with friends and family, advertisements, online browsing, as well as actual forecourt visits. This was followed up with in-depth interviews to discuss their experience, challenges and objectives, before being invited into an online forum for two weeks to share their experiences. These initial findings were then fed into a survey of 2,000 consumers, half of which had recently purchased a car, the remainder who were still actively in the buying process. This enabled us to quantify the key themes that were emerging. The research was conducted by independent research agency Join the Dots from January-June 2017.
About Auto Trader
Auto Trader Group plc is the UK and Ireland’s largest digital automotive marketplace. Auto Trader sits at the heart of the UK’s vehicle buying process and its primary activity is to help vehicle retailers compete effectively on the marketplace in order to sell more vehicles, faster. Auto Trader listed on the London Stock Exchange in March 2015 and is now a member of the FTSE 250 Index.
The marketplace brings together the largest and most engaged consumer audience. Auto Trader has over 90% prompted brand awareness and attracts an average of 60 million monthly cross platform visits a month, with circa 70% of visits coming through mobile devices.
The marketplace also has the largest pool of vehicle sellers (listing more than 470,000 cars each day). Over 80% of UK automotive retailers advertise on autotrader.co.uk.
For all trade media enquiries, please contact:
Andrew Nankervis – Senior PR Manager, Auto Trader
Tel:+44 203 747 7234