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Understanding today’s car buyers

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While new technologies have been transforming automobiles in many ways, consumers are also shifting their preferences in purchasing cars.

Cox Automotive released its latest Car Buyer Journey study last year on online marketplace Autotrader.com, shedding light on the current car shopping behavior of consumers. According to the study, 61% of the total buyers say they are driven by need in buying a new vehicle, while 39% are driven by want.

Most car buyers are undecided at the start of the shopping process, with only one in three buyers knowing exactly what vehicle they want to purchase at the beginning.

Car buyers also want to know the total price of the vehicle of their interest with 47% of buyers saying “that the total price of the vehicle is more important than the monthly payment.”




Moreover, the study further confirms the ongoing integration of online means in buying a car. The study found out that car buyers spend 60% of their time online. Furthermore, another study by Cox Automotive, entitled Future of Digital Retail Study, indicated that “7 in 10 consumers are more likely to buy from a dealership if they could start the process online.”

This online shopping is being done mostly using third-party sites, which amounts to 78% of the study’s respondents. Buyers visit third-party Web sites as their starting point. Yet the Future of Digital Retail Study revealed that with 89% of consumers wanting to sign final documents at the dealership, car buyers want to finalize their purchase in-store.

The Car Buyer Journey study also revealed that buyers are least satisfied with a long purchase process. Buyers are most satisfied with the test-driving process, garnering 77% of the population. However, only 46% of the respondents are satisfied with how long the process took. “Of the three hours average time spent at the dealership during the purchase process, half is spent negotiating or doing paperwork,” the study explained.

“Among buyers who were dissatisfied with how long the process took, Negotiations and Financing/Paperwork were the top 2 areas that took longer than they expected,” Cox Automotive’s research continued.

Multinational professional services network Deloitte also conducted its study regarding consumer trends worldwide, which was released just this year. In its Global Automotive Consumer Study, Deloitte found out that “consumers are questioning if autonomous vehicles are safe, which is causing some people to take a more cautious approach to the idea.” Electric vehicles, on the other hand, are gaining a growing demand in Asia-Pacific and the European Union.

The study also revealed a mixed opinion towards vehicle connectivity, with figures indicating Asian consumers embracing the idea more than Western counterparts. “Consumers may be reluctant to pay for connectivity” as they “differ on specific concerns around connectivity, including the security of biometric data generated and shared by connected vehicles.”

While ‘mobility revolution’ manifests itself in means such as ride-hailing, “[o]verall consumer behavior is proving difficult to change,” with many still preferring the status quo. Nevertheless, the younger generation has shown to embrace shared mobility. — Adrian Paul B. Conoza