Consumer excitement about warmer weather makes spring a popular time to buy cars. With experts predicting that pent-up demand could lead to an uptick in car purchases, eMarketer anticipates “automotive digital ad spend to rebound by 21.4% in 2021 to $13.29 billion, a figure closer to pre-pandemic levels.”
The automotive industry has effectively adopted digital strategies in recent years, appealing to consumers who increasingly want to spend less time at dealerships and complete much of their car purchases online.
Consumers Want To Buy Cars Online, And Brands Are Innovating To Create Car Buying Agility Across Channels
"Customers love the idea of having 15,000 cars in their pocket without having to go from one dealership to another in search of what they want," said Paul Hennessy, CEO of Vroom. Vroom is an online car-buying marketplace that allows consumers to browse, buy, sell, trade and finance cars entirely online with contactless delivery. Consumers are online more than ever and full-funnel online car buying experiences appeal, especially to younger consumers and those fed up with haggling.
Even when they aren’t buying cars online, consumers are spending significant amounts of time online researching cars before making a purchase. Prior to the pandemic, Millennials spent “over 17 hours researching their vehicle before purchase, and 71% say they need to be aware of all possible vehicle choices [before making a selection] – more than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers.” The share of car buyers researching online has been climbing, especially for used cars. According to research from Cox Automotive, “approximately 17% of car buyers visited a New Form Online Retailer [used-vehicle-only website] during their buying process, a significant increase from 11% in 2019 and only 7% in 2018.” Car brands that want to reach these online car browsers and buyers will need to increase their engagement across digital channels.
Delivery & Seamless Buying Options Offer Consumers The Shopping Experiences They Want
Auto sales processes that include online purchasing and car delivery gained in popularity during the pandemic and now create differentiation for brands and dealers in comparison to dealers that only offer traditional in-person shopping. In response to changing consumer behaviors, many automakers introduced platforms that allow car buyers to complete every step of buying a car online, from browsing to financing. “Nissan@Home gives customers what they’re asking for – the ability to purchase a vehicle on their terms,” said Dan Mohnke, vice president of eCommerce for Nissan U.S. “Through this new program, Nissan dealers can provide a better customer experience which can, in turn, help improve their own business performance. It’s an important first for Nissan, and a great value to our customers.”
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