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Meeting the needs of the modern car buyer

In years gone by, a tank full of petrol and some free car mats could put a smile on the car buyer’s face – but it’s safe to say we’re living in different times.

Meeting the needs of the modern day car buyer takes so much more, because they expect so much more. Understandably so, given the changing nature of the world around us.

Consumer life today is driven by instant, on-demand technology, enriched personal experiences and smooth, streamlined transactions. Think Uber for transport, Netflix for films or Deliveroo for food.

Underpinned by slick digital capabilities, these businesses and others like them have re-imagined life as we know it – not only transforming their own industries but re-calibrating the expectations of consumers across all sectors.

So, when customers decide the time is right to look for a new car, they’ll settle for nothing less than the buying experience they’re accustomed to – one that’s fit for the digital age.

Dealers unable to provide it, may find themselves left in the slow lane.

It all starts online…

While the bricks-and-mortar dealership remains very much alive and kicking, it’s rarely the first port of call for today’s car buyer.

An overwhelming 92% of consumers now start their car-buying journey online, so the competition for forecourt footfall begins very much in the digital realm.


It all starts online


An intuitive, informative and engaging online experience is therefore vital. Getting your vehicles in front of potential buyers is now only one step – showcasing your business as one that a customer can trust, easily engage with and rely upon is a growing requirement.

This positive user experience shouldn’t just apply to your own website or app, either. It applies to all content served up on comparison sites, social media or third-party platforms like AutoTrader.

A seamless journey (and consistent information) across all your digital channels will be key, ensuring that every interaction with your potential customer is relevant and valuable.

Mixing it up with multimedia

Speaking of valuable content, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the modern car buyer appreciates a wider range of media than ever.

This reflects general life trends, where today’s consumers are used to digesting content in multiple formats – be it video on Youtube, audio on podcasts and personal assistants, or images and the written word on social media and websites.

Of course, the auto industry has always been relatively hot on the use of imagery – but photos alone are no longer enough to sell a vehicle. Dealerships need to vary their content to appeal to today’s audience.

By using video, you’re already stepping things up a gear, and with 75% of consumers preferring to watch a video when researching a product, it’s a move likely to have a big impact.


Adding multimedia


In the future, more advanced video formats are sure to become popular too – with 360 degree videos like this one from Mercedes augmented reality app is an illustration of the industry’s direction of travel.

Whichever multimedia formats you embrace, remember that diversity shouldn’t come at the expense of quality. If your assets are poor quality it can damage trust and potentially put buyers off – achieving the exact opposite of their desired effect.

Tapping into mobile and social trends

Mobile plays an ever increasing role in the modern buyer journey – and with the average person glued to their phone for 3 hours 23 minutes per day, that’s no great surprise.

Research by Facebook found that many car buyers use their mobile phones to find inspiration in the early stages of their selection process – intriguingly, often browsing visual content related to other consumers’ cars.

For car dealerships, that means that all assets (websites, video or images) simply must be mobile-friendly – optimised for easy viewing on smaller screen sizes.

It also suggests that by encouraging buyers to put up post-purchase content of their new cars, you may just attract attention from their wider social network. For those using CitNOW already, recording a post purchase handover video and incentivising your customers to share it, may be a good way formalising this process.

Data and personalisation

Last but not least, the modern car buyer lives in an age of big data – and they expect companies they interact with to put that data to good use.

Specifically, they expect communications that are personalised to their preferences. If they’ve expressed an interest in a small hatchback, they probably don’t need to be bombarded with sales emails relating to large SUVs.

Too often, dealers apply a one-size-fits-all approach to communications – but non targeted marketing does little to suggest you’re acting in the customer’s best interest.

It’s a similar story on the post-sales side, where generic newsletters would be better replaced with service and maintenance reminders, tailored to the customer and their vehicle.

In summary…

The digital revolution has created a new breed of car buyer, unlikely to set foot on the forecourt before several stages of website, app or social research.

By offering optimised, personalised and mobile-friendly content in multiple formats, you’ll maximise your chances of that in-person visit. All you need to do then, is to ensure your dealership experience lives up to expectations…

This blog is the second part of four, in our “Understanding the Modern Day Buying Journey” series. To learn more download the full white paper here.

The guide includes exclusive research into the needs of the modern day buyer – helping you meet their expectations, and ultimately increase sales.


To read the first blog in the series, follow this link.
To read the next blog in this series, follow this link.