According to the latest study from Auto Trader, the UKâ€™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. Whatâ€™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 Traderâ€™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 todayâ€™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 theyâ€™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 â€˜tired of looking aroundâ€™. Worryingly, 85% of car buyers donâ€™t think the car they had purchased was their â€˜perfect carâ€™.
Ian Plummer, Auto Traderâ€™s Manufacturing and Agency Director, commented: â€œThe complex nature of todayâ€™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. Whatâ€™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.â€
The Report highlighted how important reassurance was throughout the car buying journey. For many, the immediate overload of information often leads to confusion and â€˜analysis-paralysisâ€™. 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: â€œItâ€™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.â€