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Report: Price and Inventory Still Top Priorities for Car Buyers

September 25, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO — Jumpstart Automotive Media released the results of a joint study with research firm Ipsos. “Today’s Auto Buyer and the Digital Retailing Experience” considers the points of view of consumers and dealers to better understand the shopping journey and reveal how digital and mobile strategies have changed the consideration, negotiation, and buying processes.

While recognizing that the car-buying process still carries an air of frustration and distrust, researchers sought to identify opportunities to make the buying process more satisfying all around. Areas of focus include:

• How consumers select a dealership: Analysts found dealers believe their reputations and prior positive experiences are what bring consumers in the door. However, the most influential factors in consumers’ selection of a dealership are, by far, a low price and having the right inventory. In fact, consumers (495) were almost twice as likely as dealers (24%) to identify the “lowest price” as the more influential between those two factors.

• Where shopping and research begins: Consumers spend an average of nine hours researching online before walking into a dealership, visiting an average of seven automotive sites, including manufacturer, dealer, and third-party websites. But the report found dealer websites are far more influential than even dealers themselves perceive. While dealers assume that consumers start their research on other sites, visiting the dealer website closer to the purchase, customers surveyed commonly stated that they use the dealer website very early in their shopping process.

• Closing the gap on price differences: Consumers prefer to do the majority of fact-finding online, and face-to-face communication becomes increasingly important to them at the end of the process, analysts said. More than three-quarters (76%) of consumers think they will get a better price by negotiating in person as opposed to online.

“The art of a successful car deal is aligning customer desires, such as a fair price and a smooth, quick transaction, with dealer expectations that leverage their solid reputations,” said Libby Murad-Patel, vice president marketing and strategic insights for Jumpstart. “This report goes into great detail in the motivations and beliefs of both sides, while offering actionable strategies for dealers to attract and better serve today’s auto buyers.”

“Like every other industry we study, digital content and communications have fundamentally altered the auto buying and selling process,” said Michael Baer, senior vice president at Ipsos. “Consequently, the dealership experience is completely changed from what it once was — consumers are visiting fewer of them, are doing their research in advance, and are visiting them better prepared for negotiations. There’s an emerging need for dealers and manufacturers to rethink and redesign the dealership experience and the role of dealers and salespeople to better fit consumers’ needs and expectations.”

To review the complete report, click here.

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