Disruption and the Evolution of Today’s Consumer

May 11, 2017

A consumer revolution in almost every major industry is currently taking place in front of our eyes.

There are now twice as many searches occurring on mobile compared to desktop. The prevalence of smartphones means people are getting the information they need faster in different situations and making more intelligent decisions with that information.

In the automotive industry, 56% of consumers prefer the ability to start deal negotiations on their smartphones. 72% want to complete their credit application and financing paperwork from a mobile app.

Today’s car shopper makes just two dealership visits before making a purchase – turning to mobile to research models, find deals and get real-time advice before even speaking with a sales representative. In fact, half of all customers with smartphones use them while at the dealership!

The appearance of online tools like Amazon Vehicles – which allows you to see vehicle specs, read reviews, ask owners and compare prices – makes the quality, relevance, and usefulness of marketing your dealership brand more important than ever.

 While the majority of car buyers now utilize the Internet and mobile technology during the car buying process, different age groups use it in various ways. It’s on dealers to better understand these new habits, and adapt their business practices to follow suit.

Here are some quick snapshots to help dealers better understand the different groups of digital car buyers:

Traditionalist | Aged 28-40

  • Prefer to buy vehicles, rather than lease
  • Visit a dealership with a sense of what they want, but can be influenced with the right pitch
  • Conscious in spending, and determined to walk out with the best deal
  • Use traditional internet keyword searches to influence their purchasing decisions
  • Look to reputable automotive websites to find ratings of vehicles they’re interested in

Socially Dependent | Aged 21-35

  • Prefer to lease vehicles than full-out purchase them
  • Utilize their large pool of peers for advice before making a purchase
  • Early adopters of technology that won’t hesitate to follow brands they like on social media
  • Know what they’re looking for by the time they walk into a dealership
  • Willing to spend more to get what they want
  • Turns to YouTube to watch vehicle reviews, test drives and walkthroughs
  • Use sites like DealerRater and Yelp to find the best local dealership and service options

New Consumer | Aged 18-25

  • Open to not having a car entirely, instead opting to use ride-sharing programs
  • Buy more out of need than want, leaning towards smaller, fuel efficient vehicles
  • Don’t know what type of make/model they want until first researching online
  • Rely on their smartphone for anything and everything
  • Walk into a dealership knowing exactly what they want, educating themselves beforehand
  • More likely to try to poke holes in a dealership sales rep’s pitch
  • Rely on consumer reviews and word-of-mouth to influence purchases
  • Willing to pay more for a brand/vehicle that helps their personal image

Things for Car Dealers to Consider

 There are a few points of overlap among these three types of consumer – namely their dominant reliance on search engines, ratings, reviews and word-of-mouth to shape their vehicle purchasing decision.

With 68% of people using search to help with things they want to address at some point in the future, car dealers should begin to invest in automotive ads on sites like Google and Bing to ensure their business is top-ranked for relevant keywords their audience is looking for.

Dealerships should also make it a priority to engage their customers’ post sale, and encourage them to write an online review of their experience. The more reviews you generate, the higher you’ll rank in search engines, and the more favorable your dealership will be seen in prospective car buyers’ eyes.

Additionally, with so many young consumers turning to video to inform their vehicle purchasing decisions, dealerships should look into creating a YouTube channel in order to give potential customers a more well-informed look into the inventory and expertise they offer. Types of video can include:

  • Test drives
  • Reviews of vehicles your dealership sells
  • Interior/exterior walkthroughs that highlight different vehicle features/options

Car dealers must own these digital experiences to create an improved customer experience, that lets consumers find another dealership that caters to their subconsciously evolved needs.