How Consumers Research Cars Before Buying One From Dealerships

The Car Buying Customer Journey To Find A New Vehicle

When a person decides to buy a car, they usually grab their cell phone and begin their search. Whether they want something different to drive, maybe an upgrade to a more expensive model or they were left with no choice due to a major breakdown, people have a reason why they decide to research vehicles.

The industry average for the amount of time it takes a person to finally decide which vehicle they want to purchase ranges from 1 to 3 months. The time it takes a person to finally choose the vehicle can vary based on their personal situation and needs. Someone needing a car immediately due to not having a working vehicle will be a quick sale whereas someone who is looking for a very specific make and model with certain features may take several weeks to settle on one

Automotive Sales Funnel Step 1: Awareness (Discovery)

The very first stage in the sales funnel or silo as some call it, is the awareness stage of the buying process for the automotive purchase intender audience. The car buyer has decided they need or want a different vehicle and now they need to figure out what they want or in most cases, what they can afford.

How Do Consumers Search For New Cars?

The most popular ways car shoppers research vehicles include looking up car prices, finding new or used cars listed for sale, comparing different makes and models of vehicles, using tools to look up the value of their current car and locating a dealership.

These are the discovery phase queries the majority of in-market buyers search for. When you are creating your digital marketing strategy, you should consider including ways to incorporate this information on your website and the dealership’s social media pages. Even if your dealership is not the first place the local car shoppers go in the research phase, that’s OK. It’s better to deal with educated consumers because they know exactly what they want and how much they want to spend.

If you do get a consumer who has not done any research at all and is clueless about what they want, it may be easier to direct them online rather than attempting to do it yourself. Use your dealership’s marketing resources to get them started on their path to choosing their next car.

Vehicle Research Sources

There are several ways people can learn more about new cars, trucks, SUVs and vans. With hundreds of sources readily available at their fingertips, car buyers tend to use more than just one.

OEM Website

When a person has a specific make and model in mind and searches for it in search engines, OEM websites tend to dominate the top of organic results. The reason Google serves the manufacturers’ website is that they are the authority on their own vehicles. This is where consumers can find the most accurate information on new and upcoming vehicles.

Dealer Websites

Sadly, dealer websites are the least popular choice for consumers to research vehicles in the beginning stages of the car buying process. Dealership CMS systems like DealerOn and offer great inventory systems which help website visitors find available cars, trucks or SUVs on your lot but those in-stock results are very rarely used to learn more about vehicles.

Word of Mouth

Many car buyers become interested in vehicles they see a friend or family member own which tends to lead to a conversation.

  • “Do you like the car?”
  • “How much did you pay”?
  • “Where did you get it?”

They’ll get honest answers from people they know and trust. If they are lucky, they may even get to test drive the car to see if they like it.

Automotive Publications

We’re not just talking print magazines when we say automotive publications, this includes their website corresponding websites. MotorTrend, Car and Driver or Road and Track are popular sources for vehicle information.

Review and Comparison Websites and offer consumers tons of information about new and older models. These two websites also offer picture galleries and videos so car buyers can view every angle of the exterior and interior. Site users can also compare vehicles and read reviews to help narrow down their choice.

Car Buying Apps

Automotive apps are becoming more and more popular when it comes to researching cars, trucks and SUVs. Many allow users to fine tune their searches and to set notifications about specific makes and models. Apps for iPhone and Android like InfoRide®, are changing how people research cars