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How customers think

In our latest research paper, Evolution of the Car Buyer, we looked into how car buyer preferences are changing.  In this article, we take a look into the behavioral preferences found in the report and how dealers can find ways to adapt.

Car buyers usually have a preferred model in mind, along with alternative models they want to see and have hands on experience with. They expect to be able to view and test drive when they arrive on a retailer’s forecourt.

In addition they anticipate visiting several dealerships when looking for their next car, meaning retailers need to ensure the experience delivered both online and in-store is exceptional and integrated.

CitNOW asked 1,000 UK drivers about how they go about choosing their next vehicle,as part of its latest consumer research. The survey found that questions related to a showroom visit or forecourt, served up some of the most interesting insights.

Retailers are well versed in dealing with highly informed customers who have often already made their minds up.  The research backs this up with 36% saying they already knew the model they are looking to purchase. Decisions made by this group are often aided by the availability of digital assets, including video, consumed during their research stage. This still leaves the majority undecided – 64%, providing retailers with a great opportunity to identify key considerations and match customers with the best model for their lifestyle and requirements.

Indeed, retailers can use video to their advantage here by showing a selection of vehicles available, helping customers to draw up a shortlist. Not only is this delivering fantastic customer care, it also boosts trust and the likelihood that they will eventually buy from the business which has gone to great lengths to find them their perfect vehicle.

More than half (56%) those surveyed have researched the car before they make a visit (in keeping with other studies) and today, video will likely have played a part during that research stage. In fact, 35% felt it was quite or very important to see a video of the car they were considering and a further 32% did not express an opinion either way. Three-quarters, though, expect to have seen high quality imagery of the car in question.

Retailers should take note that 29% are also planning to view multiple vehicles and almost six in every ten customers (59.5%) expect a test drive.  Being on the ball by providing digital assets at the online research stage can help customers finalise their shortlist, then being ready to deliver on demand test drives could also help maximise the chance of a sale.

This is especially important as 35% expect to visit a number of retailers before making their final decision. Yet another rather unexpected finding since many recent figures suggest customers visit as few as one dealership when purchasing their next car.

Finally, a significant minority – one in ten (11.5%), expect to buy a car when they visit. So, dealers need to be increasingly prepared to transact there and then. This also underlines the importance of ensuring car buyers have all the information including video, high quality imagery and 360-degree interior and exterior views – all at their fingertips in the research stage, to help them make the purchase decision with a dealership.

Keeping up with buyer expectations can help in delivering a better service, helping a buyer make a decision on a car, as well as the choice of which dealership to purchase from.

You can download the full Evolution of the Car Buyer report here.