The Car Shopper’s Journey – Tactics to Reach In-Market Buyers

Most automakers have been experiencing flat or declining growth over the past few years. As a result, dealer optimism is low regarding growth in vehicle sales this year. Research by 9 Clouds confirm this, finding that the highest priority for dealerships is increasing leads.

dealership marketing efforts

One major concern for car dealers is peer-to-peer ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, which are continuing to grow in popularity. However, despite the trend toward these services, shared mobility has not yet reached mainstream adoption.

Shared Mobility 2019

Trends Impacting the Car Shopping Journey

To capture more market share, dealers need to have a good understanding of the trends impacting the car shopping journey. 

In the 2018 Global Automotive Consumer Study, Deloitte found that American car buyers are spending less time researching vehicles purchases than they did in 2014. Research is more readily available and consumers are able to find the information they are looking for more quickly than before.

According to Nielsen, 75% of all car buyers reported that they intend to purchase their top of mind brand. Consumers with unaided brand awareness account for only 23% of total awareness, yet generate 60% of all purchase consideration and 90% of purchase intent. In fact, shoppers with unaided awareness have 10 times the purchase intent as those with aided awareness.

Vehicle Purchase Awareness

Car shoppers start out on the path to purchase by considering two to three brands on average. They’re aware of many more (29 out of the 34 in the study), but by the time they’re ready to buy, they typically have five brands under consideration—nearly twice as many as they started with.

Vehicle Purchase Consideration

The majority of new vehicles are purchased by consumers over 40 years of age. They represent 62% of the adult population in the U.S. and account for over 75% of all new car sales. This population largely consists of Gen Xers (ages 40-54) and Baby Boomers (55+).

Purchase consideration for brands during the path to purchase jumps as the final decision nears, but there are differences between age groups. Millennials’ purchase consideration nearly doubles (+96%) during their buying journey. This is followed by Boomers at +72% and Gen Xers at +39%. In total, purchase consideration among Millennials outpaces that of older auto shoppers by 62%.

Vehicle Purchase Consideration Generational Differences

It’s helpful to know the general trends impacting car shopping, from awareness to purchase. However, the real competitive advantage comes from knowing your audience and using techniques and strategies to reach consumers who are in-market.

At the forefront of consumer conquest is data. 84% of automotive brands agree that data fuels competitive advantage. (KPMG’s “Global Automotive Executive Survey)

automotive data competitive advantage

By profiling your current customer and prospect base using a data management system or customer data platform, brands can discover up-sell opportunities and develop a best customer profile to create look-alike audiences.  Types of data to consider include:

  • Internal CRM Data: This is data you have on your current customers and prospects including email communications, social media interactions, service department visits and more.
  • VIN data: A vehicle identification number database to provide further insights, such as what a current prospect is currently driving. Porch Group Media provides automotive marketing data on over 215+ million consumers and 188 million VINs with linkage at the household and garage level.
  • Demographics: Append your database with additional insights into your customers and prospects such as income, occupation, lifestyle, presence of children in the household and more.
  • Trigger data such as economic changes or new movers. For example, new movers are 90% more likely than established residents to purchase a car within the first year of their move. (Zillow)
  • In-Market Shopping Indicators: Porch Group Media can connect you with consumers who have recently visited a dealer’s lot or who are shopping online.

Understanding how consumer shop for cars paired with an integrated customer view and in-market purchases indicators can help you deliver more timely campaigns, better customer experiences and ultimately, more dealership visits.

Interested in learning more about today’s top automotive marketing strategies? Check out our Free Automotive Marketing Success Kit.

Automotive Marketing Success Kit

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