New York Auto Show Marketing Awards
March 28, 2018

How Consumers Buy Cars Today

Millennial couple in new car they just purchased - Redline Affinity Group auto dealership marketing

25 Interesting Statistics on Consumer Car Buying

1. Car buyers spend 59% of their time online researching. (Autotrader)

2. To research online, 46% of car shoppers use multiple devices. (Autotrader)

3. Most car buyers are undecided at the beginning of the car buying process. When they first begin to shop, 6 out of 10 them look at many different vehicle options. (Autotrader)

4. Car buyers are using third-party sites for car shopping, used by 78% of shoppers. (Autotrader)

Sources used to shop

5. Walk-ins remain the common form of initial contact with a dealership – over 50% (Autotrader)

Initial contact with dealership

6. The top five online activities by car buyers:

  1. Researching car prices (71%),
  2. Finding cars listed for sale (68%)
  3. Comparing models (64%)
  4. Finding current car value (63%)
  5. Locating a dealer and getting dealer info (46%). (Autotrader)

7. When asked to rate their satisfaction on a scale of 1-10, 81% of car buyers gave the test-driving process an 8-10 rating. However, satisfaction declined to 67% when interactions with the F&I department were factored in. Of the 3-hours average time spent at the dealer during the purchase process, more than half of that time is spent negotiating or doing paperwork, resulting in a 56% satisfaction rate for the process. (Autotrader)

Satisfaction with purchase process

8. 22% of online car buyers use a social media site as a source while shopping, up from 16% in 2015. The most popular social media sites are YouTube (13%), DealerRater (7%) and Facebook (5%). (D. Power 2016 New Autoshopper Study)

9. 13% of shoppers who use social media say that the information posted on social media sites influenced their purchase decision, and only 2% say a social site was the “most useful site” they visited.  (D. Power 2016 New Autoshopper Study)

10. 34% of new-vehicle buyers using social media for car buying post a picture of their new vehicle on a social site. Facebook is the most posted site at 88%, followed by Instagram at 21%. (D. Power 2016 New Autoshopper Study)

11. Smartphones Surpass Tablets for Automotive Research: 53% of automotive internet shoppers use a mobile device for automotive information. For 2016, smartphone usage surpasses tablet usage (37% vs. 33%). The use of desktop or laptop computers remains most common at 92%, but has dropped from 99% in 2012.  The proportion of time spent shopping on mobile devices continues to increase, with 33% of the total shopping time now conducted on a mobile device.  (D. Power 2016 New Autoshopper Study)

12. Millennials look at more vehicles on average than Baby Boomers. Millennials also take longer to decide what car to buy than Baby Boomers, an average of 16.9 vs 15.7 weeks. Millennials invest more time in the actual buying process as well, almost four and a half hours more on average. (D. Power)

13. 87% of Americans dislike something about shopping at dealerships and 61% feel they’re taken advantage of while there. (2016 Beepi Consumer Automotive Index)

14. 52% of car shoppers feel nervous or uncomfortable at dealerships. Millennials lead the dislikes, with 56% saying they’d rather clean their homes than haggle with a car dealer. Gen X-ers aren’t fans either, and 24% say they’d rather have a root canal than get into car negotiation. Among millennial women, 62% feel pressured to buy right away and 49% said they felt tricked into buying features they didn’t need. (2016 Beepi Consumer Automotive Index)

15. When asked about newer car buying alternatives, 54% said they would “love” being able to sell or buy a car from home and 42% were OK with buying a car without a test driving it as long as there was a guarantee. (2016 Beepi Consumer Automotive Index)

16. According to research from Facebook, US vehicle shoppers not only use mobile devices as they research new cars, they even prefer them for some activities. A majority of vehicle shoppers said mobile was a better way to ask friends and family about auto options, and about two in five preferred to book a test drive from a mobile device.

17. The biggest marketing priority for auto dealers is increasing lead volume and conversions. (9 Clouds, “The 2016 State of Automotive Marketing”)

Highest priority for your dealership's marketing efforts

18. Dealerships are also utilizing customer CRM data to properly address the auto buyer’s needs prior to contacting them.  The most common pieces of consumer data include basic contact details, vehicle interest, and purchase/service history. (9 Clouds, “The 2016 State of Automotive Marketing”)
Information about a lead before salesperson interacts

19. A study byACA Research charts our the automotive customer’s journey and the timing for key events from initial research to final purchase. According to the research, “Generally the automotive vehicle purchase journey for the vehicle and finance can take between 5 and 12 weeks and encompasses the following steps.”

  • Develop a shopping list of vehicle brands: approx. 1-3 months prior to purchase.
  • Cull the list: 4-7 weeks before purchase.
  • Test drive vehicles: 2-4 weeks before purchase.
  • Finalize vehicle choice: on average 1-3 weeks before purchase.

20. 54% of consumers would buy from a dealership that offers their preferred experience, even if it didn’t have the lowest price. (Autotrader)

21. 72% of auto buyers would visit dealerships more often if the buying process was improved. (Autotrader)

22. Research that Google commissioned from Millward Brown Digital shows that 70% of people who used YouTube as part of their car buying process were influenced by what they watched and views on YouTube of test drives, features and options, and walk-throughs have doubled in the past year.

23. A report by automotive research company, SBD shows evidence that these connected systems are important to younger, more digitally-oriented consumers and will likely impact their next vehicle brand purchase decision.  Cars play a key role in supporting Millennials’ need to stay connected, and in a study by, 72% of younger millennials indicated that a car is important to their social life. Style and features, especially technology, are critically important to them. For example, more than 70% of younger millennials cite technology and infotainment features as “must-haves” when purchasing a car.

24. Integrated mobile apps and connected vehicle services deliver more value for the customer, enhancing customer loyalty after the initial car purchase. A study by DMEautomotive showed that vehicle buyers using a branded app were 73% more likely to make a purchase from the dealership, and after making a purchase, booked 25% more service appointments than shoppers without an app. They also spent more money than non-app users when purchasing a vehicle, 7% more according to a study commissioned by

25. According to a study by Arthur D. Little, dealer’s average response time is 9.2 hours and OEMs average time is around 24 hours.  This is a huge opportunity for improving the overall customer experience.