People may not be (yet) buying new cars online but they sure spend a lot of time and energy researching their future purchases online. Remember the old cars salesman stereotype? Forget it. The new cars salesmen is the guy with the most positive online reviews, a stellar social media presence, hired by the friendliest dealership in town and quick to respond to his customers’ questions.
1. Car buyers are in the market for 5.3 months. Mostly researching online.
Speaking of customers – those looking into buying a new car are in the market for roughly 5.3 months, as shown in this Cars.com research. During these months they check out:
- information regarding manufacturers
- information on car models
- dealership information
Now when it comes to dealerships – you can be sure that by the time a customer sets foot in one he has probably read everything available online on:
- company website
- social media profiles
- online reviews
Sometimes potential customers don’t even bother visiting their local dealerships if online reviews are not good enough. A curated online presence can do miracles for dealers as long as their service matches their marketing. Good service and reliability are still the most important factors when deciding what and where to buy. Recent online developments just make it easy for customers to find out the good and the bad about dealers and cars.
2. Photos sell cars. Reliable cars.
We all know how important photos are when buying cars. 63% of potential car buyers make their first steps towards a purchasing decision based on photos and other media. However, no dealer is going to make them pay unless esthetics are backed up by great reviews on reliability (52% new car buyers showed interest), features/colors (51%) and safety information (49%).
3. Mobile is used before, while and after purchasing a car
As mobile is quickly revolutionizing every aspect of our lives we were bound to use them on the spot, in dealerships, when making our final decisions. If you’ve used your smartphone in the dealership you can rest assured you are not alone – 43% of customers visiting dealers use their mobile device. Most frequent uses during dealership visits are targeted at:
- pricing information (57%)
- general information (22%)
- vehicle information (14%)
So price checking really matters when visiting the dealer. It’s not a secret that any dealership will try to maximize its margin but that seems to be harder and harder with everconnected consumers.
Much more than this – customers will also check for user generated content on the spot. 79% of new car buyers value user generated reviews , as this CapGemini report shows.
The same report outlines some of the media channels buyers will scan to form an opinion. The big take away from the info below is that social media outlets (for both manufacturers and dealers) really matter when forming an opinion. Make sure that they are well set up and properly maintained.
4. Customers connect to connected cars
There is a growing need for connected cars. I wrote about it a couple of months ago and now, with the new iOS 7 and recent developments in smartphone manufacturing customers seem to be getting what they want, when it comes to in-car smartphone support:
- driving support
- care information
- remote support
- vehicle information
5. Women feel empowered when it comes to buying cars online
A big shift in car buying, especially when it comes to online-related purchases is the fact that women seem to be more and more engaged.
What has been looked at as a traditionally male influenced industry is shifting by the day and internet plays a large part in this shift. Women are big spenders when it comes to auto: they spend more than $200 billion yearly on new cars and car – care. They also influence over 80% of all new car purchases and account for almost 65% of all car service work done on dealerships.
These are some really, really big numbers and they just keep on increasing as women feel empowered to negotiate their prices behind a computer screen. Once a somewhat biased industry, the auto dealerships are leveled fields for both men and women and purchasing can now be fun and engaging for women. Feel like reading a little more about it? Check out Libby Copeland’s experience with buying a car online here.
In the end remember that:
- customers will research online their car options long before visiting a car dealership
- dealerships are (still) the ones to finalize the car sale
- unreliable car salesmen will soon be a thing of the past
- mobile is changing the way we buy cars
- women are quickly becoming the most important segment in car sales