Volkswagen Financial Services- 28 Feb 2019

How Digital Trends are Influencing Car Buying Decisions

The average car buyer today makes just two or three dealership visits in the search for the perfect vehicle. That’s because today car buyers turn to mobile to research models, find deals, and get real-time advice. The increasing digital trend shows how savvy shoppers are getting in the car-buying process. Auto shopping has increasingly become an online adventure.

Here’s a run-down of the 5 key moments, and what they means in terms of consumer behavior in this digital age.

1. Which car is the best?

Consumers are quick to determine which vehicle has the best specs, including all the bells and whistles that are important to them. Gone are the days where car buyers trust everything that the dealerships tell them – now, they have information to back up their beliefs in terms of which car pulls ahead. They spend a lot of time prior to coming to the dealership doing research to determine which one is “best”, and so winning these moments are crucial.

2. Is it right for me?

At some point, a buyer needs a reality check: will this car fit my needs, my budget and my life? Information about practical considerations, like seating accommodations and number of airbags are the hallmark of this stage. Historically, fuel efficiency has been a key factor at this stage, but the trends are changing. Search interests for luxury options are on the rise along with features like panoramic sunroof and rear view cameras. They are spending more time focusing on interior and exterior design, to determine whether or not it will fulfill all their expectations.

3. Can I afford it?

Once consumers can imagine owning a particular vehicle, they need to know if they can afford it. They want to know that they are not going to overstretch themselves when purchasing their new vehicle. Searching for MSRP and list prices are at an all-time high, and are extremely high on mobile search, signaling that they are constantly comparing and researching, even while on the dealership’s lot.

4. Where should I buy it?

This is very important, and one of the most important when it comes to dealerships. Even as the majority of the car shopping process moves online, the visit to the nearby car dealership remains a crucial step in the journey. No matter what, a consumer will always have to come into a dealership to sign the papers and drive off with the car.  This is an extremely important moment to win, specifically for dealerships, because this could make or break whether they get the sale or not. Beyond the ‘where’, buyers also look for the ‘when’ and ‘what’, and while websites and apps can often answer those questions, sometimes a good old fashion phone call is still the way to go.

5. Am I getting a deal?

Okay, the deal just got real. The buyers are on the lot and they know what they want. But they need to know they’re getting a fair deal, and the digital trends are a testament to that. They are always on the phone while at the dealership to find the best deals, to compare other prices and to confirm that they can’t get a better deal anywhere.

This is a time of increasing opportunity to connect with car buyers. They’re researching more and adding more and more options to their consideration lists when it comes to cars and car finance. But, more often than not, your chance to win over a buyer isn’t just happening in person, it’s happening online – often on a smartphone. So be there, be useful and be quick.